Everything you Need to Know About The Swatch Skiers Cup
Learn all about one of the highlights of the skiing calendar - The Swatch Skiers Cup.
Europe are the reigning champions having taken a 2-1 lead in the series after winning in Zermatt last year. The competition has returned to Switzerland again in 2014 with North America keen to even the score.
This guide will take you through the format, scoring, location and teams so you can take it easy and just enjoy the awesome skiing on show.
The Skiers Cup sees teams from Europe and North America face off over two different events - Big Mountain and Backcountry Freestyle. In each event one skier from Team Europe faces off against an opponent from Team Americas. Each run is evaluated by a panel of judges and the winner takes a point for his team. Whichever team finishes the week with the most points wins.
Teams are picked by the captains and the eight pairings are then picked at random to face one another, with the captains fighting it out between themselves at the end. The match-ups for this year's event are below.
|HEAT 1||Cody TOWNSEND (USA)||VS||Sverre LILIEQUIST (SWE)|
|HEAT 2||Fabio STUDER (AUT)||VS||Dane TUDOR (USA)|
|HEAT 3||KC DEANE (USA)||VS||Fabien MAIERHOFER (FRA)|
|HEAT 4||Kevin GURI (FRA)||VS||Sage CATTABRIGA - ALOSA (USA)|
|HEAT 5||Seth MORRISON (USA)||VS||Richard PERMIN (FRA)|
|HEAT 6||Sam FAVRET (FRA)||VS||Callum PETTIT (CAN)|
|HEAT 7||Tim DURTSCHI (USA)||VS||Nicolas VUIGNIER (SUI)|
|HEAT 8||Julien REGNIER (FRA)||VS||JP AUCLAIR (CAN)|
The three men in charge of scoring the event carry a wealth of prestige and experience. They are Camille Jacoux of France, Philippe Poirier of Canada and Woodie Bouma from Australia. Between them they've skied pretty much everything going, won plenty and know the mountains inside out.
Rather than scoring each competitor's run, the trio will simply raise a blue card if they were more impressed by Team Europe or a red card for Team America. No more worrying about fractions of points, just winners and losers. Brutal, yet simple.
The judges have said that they're hoping to see style over spins, with inventive lines and fluid riding rewarded ahead of the spin-to-win philosophy.
The first two editions of the Skiers Cup took place in Valle Nevado, Chile, but in 2013 they came to Switzerland and took up in Zermatt.
In the shadow of the Matterhorn, Zermatt offers a playground for the world's best freeskiers with everything they could want. At over 1600m above sea level, powder is guaranteed and plentiful.
The location of the Big Mountain event is determined 48 hours before the event and picked based on the conditions available. The size of the Zermatt ski area gives the organisers plenty of scope to choose somewhere spectacular.
The Backcountry Slopestyle takes place in one of two locations - again depending on conditions - in an untracked off-piste area which has had features and jumps built into it using the expertise of shaper, Arnaud Kugener.
The eight man teams are packed with quality and are lead by two bonafide legends - JP Auclair for the Americas and Julien Regnier for Europe. We've picked our ones to watch from the teamsheets.
One of the founding fathers of freeskiing, JP Auclair knows more about freeskiing than you've had hot dinners. His approach to the sport has influenced skiers around the world - including his team-mates and opponents. His ability to hit features in ways others haven't even considered, is one of his greatest strengths. We're looking forward to seeing him go head to head with long time friend, Julien Regnier.
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa is best known for his back-country work with Teton Gravity Research so we're looking forward to seeing him test himself on the Slopestyle course - though since he broke onto the scene with some huge double frontflips at Pyramid Gap he's clearly no stranger to a kicker. As seen in TGR's recent Mind's Eye series Sage is unafraid to charge lines and spines anywhere in the globe.
Having just turned 40, Seth Morrison will be keen to show that he isn't over the hill just yet. Given that he's still killing it in Alaska along with Alosa and the TGR crew, we reckon he'll keep up with the young ones just fine.
Europe's captain is one of the few people with as much pedigree as his opposite number. Somewhat of a skiing renaissance man, Julien Regnier is as capable designing skis as he is riding them and has even turned his hand to judging - he was one of the panel for the 2012 Skiers Cup. This is his first time competing. We're looking forward to seeing whether his inside knowledge is an advantage.
Sverre Lillequist is to the mountain born and has been nailing it for decades. He's got some serious pedigree in the Skiers Cup, only last year he was seen evading an avalanche with an obscene backflip (above). More of the same please Sverre.
[part title="On MPORA"]
On MPORA we'll be bringing you all the highlights from the days' events throughout the week along with galleries and articles along the way. For the moment you can catch all the previews before things really get going.