Oh Spring! Predictably unpredictable at the Hi-Standard.

I woke up early with the goal of getting to the mini-pipe on time for the Drink Sexy Open. It’s a four hour drive from Lausanne to Laax, but since the event wasn’t supposed to start until 14h, I figured that it would be easy. The trip went smoothly and before I knew it I was on the lift up to the Crap Sogn Gion. The sun was out. Birds were chirping. I started thinking that I probably didn’t need my jacket… but by the time I got off the lift it was snowing sideways.

I found the crew inside at No Name and when I asked Yung Doli if he thought that there was still a chance that his event might happen, he just laughed. People were already cracking beers, but I wasn’t quite ready to shift from snowboarding to partying. I asked around and Leo Eigensatz was down to try to make something happen, so I busted out the flashes and we headed out into the storm. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried using flashes in a blizzard, but the effect can be pretty interesting… or frustrating. By the time I got the system to behave, nearly everyone was gone and the sky broke blue. We shot some slashes and headed down to the Indy bar.

Beautiful day…
Leandro was ready…
5 minutes later.

I love spring. Since the new season officially kicked off on March 20th, I’ve had some of my best days. I’ve also frozen my ass off, been pelted by hail and gotten a sunburn. It’s the time of year where the weather guys just use all of the icons to cover their asses. You never quite know what you’ll get, but if you have the right attitude there’s always something fun to get in to.

Sparrow Knox with the weather report.

Which brings us to day one of the Vans Hi-Standard – the event where “Style is King”. If you’re bored of the spin to win events put on by the FIS, then this is the event for you. Every beautiful trick puts cash in your hand and there’s even a “rule” that no one should be spinning more than 720. The first day was an open event, allowing ams, pros and groms to shred together in a series of mini-sessions on each of the features laid out by the Laax shapers.

8 year old Gion Rietmann…
…closed out the session and earned some cash for the family.

In the end, four boys and two girls were voted MVPs by the judging panel and invited to ride the next day with the pros for a chance to take home thousands of francs in prizes.

Emily Rothner and Cool Wakushima
Rocco Jamieson, Dane Menzies, Loris Framarin and Txema Mazet Brown

Things continued in a typically festive fashion and as I floated back to my room at the Riders Hotel I took some portraits of the many boots that lived in the hallway. At this point in the season, any gear that’s still working well has pretty much done it’s job. So I took the opportunity to ask a few of the local riders about the state of their boots…

Hey Gian (Sutter), how old are those boots?
It was my second day on the hill with them.

On a scale of 1 to 10 — with 1 being “fresh-out-the-box” and 10 being “absolutely rotten” — how would you rank the smell?
The smell is still pretty fresh, but after that intense day of riding, probably a 2 already.

How much money would I have to pay you to drink a beer out of that boot?
I would do it for 50 bucks! But still wouldn’t be keen… haha.

Who’s got 50 bucks for Gian?

Gian’s on Vans Euro team, so I guess he’s swimming in new boots. I figured I’d try out the same hard hitting questions on a flow rider…

Hey Eliot (Golay), how long have you been running those boots?
6 big months.

On a scale of 1 to 10 — with 1 being “so fresh and so clean” and 10 being “spawn of the devil” — how would you rank the smell?
I’d give them a 6.

How much money would I have to pay you to drink a beer out of that boot?
I’d do it for 6 francs… or the price of a beer. So 666, just like the Hi-Standard.

Finals day kicked off with a healthy hangover and finished with a three run slopestyle format for the qualified riders. The weather even cleared up enough to session the kickers…

Fridge and Boris Mouton, poaching.
Niek van der Velden
Gian Sutter

In the end Hanna Hrund Thor and Simon Gschaider took home 10k each and the MVP titles. According to their filmers, both of them are sitting on a ton of footage from this winter, so be sure to keep an eye out for their breakout video parts. Hanna will be in the new Lobster movie and Simon will be in the new Nitro movie. Vans also threw some cash to Gian Sutter for the best style, Enni Rukajarvi for the best trick, Patrick Hofmann for the best slam and Vanessa Volopichova for the best rookie.

Enni Rukajarvi
Patrick Hofmann
Gian Sutter

And since Laax is always full of colorful characters, and this was an event that was supposed to be all about style, I’m going to add in a few meaningless awards of my own…

Best Kit goes to the one and only Mayol Green.
Best Fit goes to Sparrow Knox.
And Most Lit goes to Yung Sunburn.

Big thanks to the Vans crew for putting on events like this and the Laax shapers for building a park that holds up, even when the weather is batshit crazy. I leave you with one more photo of Fridge who would’ve probably won the competition if he would’ve waited his turn to drop in. As he said after the event, “I couldn’t play be the rules, and I paid the price.”

Springtime is for plants.

Story and photos by Ahriel Povich.