article: Jan Fleckenstein
pics: Martina Gastaldi

How it was… Hmm – like following the white rabbit into Alice’s Wonderland?

Well, only if Wonderland is synonymous for Zurich, Switzerland. And the white rabbit actually a synonym for 51 super skilled riders from 17 nations gathering September 22nd/23rd for the coolest freestyle event in Switzerland.

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This years’ motto: It’s hero time!

Just a stone throw away (or 10 minute walk) from the heart of the city – the dreamland of fur coated and diamonds wearing woman and super sports car driving business men – you could experience a completely different (and more simpatico) definition of style: Located right at the shores of beautiful Zurich lake the 17th edition of freestyle.ch took place.

The passionate organizers transformed the Landiwiese into a paradise for all kinds of riders. And what an ambience: Blue skies, glazing sun and more than 20 degrees.

The place was amazing and huge… And just having arrived and you could already feel the action and sport scent: A snowboard and free ski Big air (and I really mean BIG), a Dirt Jump for the insane FMX guys crossing the landing zone of skiers & boarders, the Dirt Jump section for the MTB fraction right next to it, a skate park with a milk(!) bar, and the urban stair set park with rails and stairs for the grinders on skies and boards.

Apart from the sport grounds you could entertain yourself – or let yourself be entertained – in between and after the competitions at the live stage with bands like Frittenbude or the Snöffeltöffs. In the evening the entire area turned into one big party zone with DJs & music just everywhere.

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In the label world you could check out the latest and upcoming trends in clothing, equipment and accessories – an Eldorado for spending your money for the next season.

Oh, we mustn’t forget the small island in the lake which you could reach walking a little bridge: It invited all people to train their skills on balance boards, enjoy the lake paddling on a stand up board, win prices by doing crazy 5m jumps into an air cushion, much more.

Or just hang out, get tan and dream of the upcoming winter while yearningly looking at the already (or still?) snow covered Alps in the background.

All around the freestyle.ch grounds you would meet lots of laid-back people of very mixed ages – and lots of them wearing the red signature mask of the freestyle.ch. In the end, 33.000 people enjoyed the freestyle.ch weekend.

Oh right – there were competitions, too. Well, so impressed by the atmosphere and location, one could almost forget about the $100.000 of prize money. Well, just almost. As the name of the event says, it is all about style.

So not necessarily the guys showing the most difficult tricks would win – the most stylish did. Style was judged by a competent jury of each sport. Later in the sessions, the applause of the audience for the single riders would vote for the style champion.

So gentlemen, start your engines: The FMX riders were the first and ramped up the audience’s emotions on the dirt jump: Supermen, double grabs, nac nacs, fender grabs, back flips, rodeo airs, and many more of the most insane tricks.

Just a little side note: One of the main sponsors of the event was a huge insurance company – actually I am not quite sure whether they informed themselves beforehand, what kind of crazy stuff you can do with bikes, or skies, or boards…

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Anyway – us humble weirdoes could only eat the dust of these super young riders and finally give an astonished and warm hand to Libor Podmol from Czech Republic acknowledging his well-deserved FMX title at freestyler.ch.

Later on the Big Air the free ski and snowboard riders gave us great moments with the craziest combinations of front- and backside flips and spins combined with grabs.

Backside rodeos, backside 180s or 720s – you name it. Side note: East Asia seems to be stylish at the moment – a lot of riders took their grabs “to Japan”. So you know what to practice in the coming winter.

The only woman in the Big Air contests and with 14 years the youngest Big Air contestant unfortunately didn’t make it to the finals – so the freeSTYLER.ch titles – and a ticket to ride in the crossover session – finally went to Phil Casabon (Free ski) from Canada and Halldor Helgasson (Snowboard) from Island.
Right next to the Big Air, the MTB guys played their tricks down with a 10m jump down a drop ramp, over a table top and finishing in a quarter pipe: 360s, tailwhips, backflips, supermen… In the end the youngest MBT rider, Sweden’s Anton Thelander took the freeSTYLER.ch MTB-title and the ticket to ride in Saturday’s contest highlight: The Crossover Session.
In the Crossover Session all disciplines joined forces for a contest to determine this years’ King of Style.

They left the vote to the cheers of the enthusiastic audience – and the great and fair people proved to be unbiased concerning the sport they are doing themselves: They voted FMX rider Mathieu Rebeaud the Crossover Champion 2013.

Did it matter that he is from Switzerland himself? We say: No – he just had the style and flair it needed to become the well-worthy Crossover Champ of 2013 freestyle.ch . Congrats, Matt!

And it all climaxed in a breathtaking session where all riders took off at the same time – mountain bikers going downhill parallel to skiers and snowboarders on the Big Air with the FMX riders crossing the lines of both while the fireworks went off.

There’s just one word: INSANE! 

And now after all this: What do you think?

Will you follow the white rabbit with the red mask next year? Our advice: Go, do it! Don’t keep yourself from the fun of this freestyle world – it will be hero time again!