Gian Simmen takes 6th in his last competitive outing, protégés Rohrer and Scherrer reign supreme.
In what turned out to be an emotional and significant send-off, Swiss snowboard legend, Gian Simmen, stood the test of time by scoring a solid 6th place in his last competitive event here at the O’Neill Evolution in Davos, while two of his young protégés, Verena Rohrer (SUI) and Jan Scherrer (SUI), took out the Women’s and Men’s 5 Star World Snowboard Tour Halfpipe titles respectively.
Conditions were snowy, testing and the light low for the start of the women’s Halfpipe contest. After a solid performance, local Swiss rider, Verena Rohrer, took out the Halfpipe title, making the judges’ job that much easier by nailing down a silky-smooth run. French rider, Clémence Grimal, took 2nd with Japan’s very impressive Akiko Milwa holding on to 3rd place. Rohrer’s win propels her into 3rd in the Women’s World Snowboard Tour rankings.
“I’m really blown away with this win,” said a very excited Verena. “I didn’t really have any expectations when I arrived in Davos; I just wanted to put my run down and let people see what I can do. So I’m pretty stoked with the result!”
The Men’s Halfpipe Final was always going to be special. Not only did it include a field of some of the best up and coming riders, but it was also the last official contest for one of the most outstanding riders ever to grace a board. Having won his first Swiss Championships in Davos back in 1996, and having been crowned ISF World Champion in Davos in both 2001 and 2002, Gian Simmen chose the O’Neill Evolution as the stage to bid his final adieu to competitive snowboarding.
To a standing ovation from fans and fellow riders alike, Gian took his third and final run, stomping a massive Backside Air on the final hit of a typically styled-out run that was good enough to push him into 6th position overall, bringing the curtain down on an undeniably exceptional career.
It was left to 16-year old wunderkind, Kyle Mack (USA), to shake up the podium positions in the last run of the event, as he climbed into 2nd with a super-technical run that included a Front 9 Mute, and Front 10 Tail to Cab 7 Mute.
Be it chance, poetic license or the very well written script of a Hollywood feel-good thriller, local shredder and Gian Simmen’s protégé, Jan Scherrer (SUI), took out his first World Snowboard Title with a Back 9 Mute, Front 10 Tail, Cab 7 Melon to Front 9 Mute. The emotional prize-giving ceremony was deservingly completed by an impressive Hiroki Suwa (JPN).
“Finishing my 23 year contest career here in Davos is simply a dream come true,” said Gian. “It’s like the closing of a circle. And to see Jan Scherrer and Verena Rohrer taking out the contest was all-time. I couldn’t have wished for a better pair if you look at it as the changing of the guard. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them both.”
“I have to admit,” continued Gian, “Walking to the top of the pipe for the last time was pretty emotional. The whole week has been emotional. I was just thinking about going big in my last run, but the younger kids said, “Nah,.. Gian, we want to see your A-game.” So I took a deep breath, soaked up the atmosphere, and tried to make them proud. To make it just that much more special, my two children swamped me at the bottom of the pipe before I’d had a chance to appreciate that it was done! It’s been a really special day.”
Jan Scherrer went a long way to echoing that sentiment by saying: “This is the biggest result of my career and it’s pretty special to do it at home, here in Davos. And to do it here at Gian’s last contest… He’s done so much for me and Swiss snowboarding. He’s the man! The biggest influence to all of us ever. I’m stoked on the result and even more on being here and part of this experience. I’m looking forward to going riding with Gian soon – it’s always good times with him!
Stay tuned for more action from the O’Neill Evolution, with Big Air Qualifications scheduled for Friday, the Gian Simmen ‘Legends Session’ kicking off at 15:00 on Saturday, and the nighttime Big Air Finals on Saturday evening.