The final day of the 6 Star O’Neill Evolution, an out-and-out highlight stop on the World Snowboard Tour, set the scene for the legend that is Gian Simmen to bid a fond farewell to the world of contest snowboarding.
Closing the curtain on a competitive career that has been more than two decades in the making, the 35-year-old Swiss style master fittingly chose the O’Neill Evolution and the Swiss resort of Davos, located just a few miles as the crow flies from his home resort of Arosa, to say goodbye. “Finishing my 23-year contest career here is a dream come true,” said Gian, a three-time Olympian. “It’s the closing of a circle. I rode a board for the first time here in Davos; won my first major contest here; won my two World Championship titles right here too. So to finish off my contest career in Davos – it’s the icing on the cake.”
Having officially closed out his competitive career the day before with a very respectable 6th place in the Halfpipe Finals, and a typically enormous Backside Air on the last hit of his last run, Saturday afternoon’s ‘Legends Session’ presented fans and fellow riders – both past and present – with an opportunity to honor Gian’s remarkable contribution to the sport.
Gian Simmen (SUI) boosting airs sporting a 1980′s-inspired day glow one-piece O’Neill snowsuit.
The laid-back, fun-filled jam session saw a veritable who’s who of European snowboarding royalty gracing the Halfpipe to doff their caps to one of snowboarding’s greatest ambassadors. Among others, Xaver Hoffman, Michi Albin, Reto Lamm, Pascal Imhof and Johnny Eisenhut all rolled back the years and reminded the young guns how it’s done. Not surprisingly, Gian was the standout rider, boosting double-overhead airs while sporting a 1980s-inspired dayglow one-piece O’Neill snowsuit. Style by the mile from the retiring hero.
Reflecting on his career at the end of an emotional day, Gian said: “Snowboarding has given me so much: the friends, the experiences, the chance to live a very special lifestyle – it gave me a place to clear my mind. As the first rider to win Olympic Gold almost 15 years ago, I understood very quickly there would be certain expectations of me. I just hope people remember me for the work I’ve done for snowboarding, the work I still plan to do, and hope they enjoyed my riding and riding with me over the years. I can’t thank everyone enough for this amazing journey.”
We’re sure we speak for the whole snowboarding community when we say: “Thanks for the memories Gian; it’s been one hell of a ride, and long may it continue!”