Setting the bar higher than ever before, the 2019 Audi Nines created yet another visual and aerial feast for spectators, with record-breaking techniques in two idyllic winter locations.
2 May, 2019
This year, the Audi Nines was bigger than ever, with an additional course in nearby Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
We won’t even bother starting off the with ‘look up in the sky, is it a bird is it a plane…’ gag because it’s been done to death. Anyone with even a passing interest in extreme snow sports know that if you head to the Tyrolean ski resort of Sölden each year at this time, there’s more going on up in the sky than during a meteor shower.
It’s here that the absolute cream of the world’s freestyle skiers and snowboarders come to take on a course that was clearly designed by an evil genius.
This is the Audi Nines, a freestyle snow sport extravaganza that draws crowds to witness seemingly impossible feats of aerial artistry from these extraordinary and fearless athletes. A competition – yes – but also a massive expression session and lifestyle event with music and incredible photography all playing their part.
The Audi Nines consistently delivers the biggest and best in extreme snow techniques and jumps and 2019 was certainly no exception.
This year, the Audi Nines was bigger than ever, with an additional course in nearby Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, running at the same time as the Sölden course, allowing the organisers the scope for more events, more runs and the chance to create a separate women’s course.
The logistics alone are as impressive as the techniques. At the men’s site at Sölden, some 150,000 square metres of natural snow was turned into something out of a video game by 16 dedicated shapers using three pistenbullys or snow grooming machines and two excavators.
Over at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, 35,000 square metres of snow, eight shapers and an additional two snow shaping machines and an excavator carved and shaped out an equally wild course from the pristine mountain, building past experiences and then throwing in a liberal dose of ‘out there’ just for fun.
“Every year we try and do something new and special,” says Nico, the Audi Nines ‘Minister for Hype. “This year the most special thing we have [at Sölden] is the launch pad, which is 10 metres high and just 2.25 metres wide,” he grins.
Over at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, what looks like UFO that’s crashed into the mountain serves as a rail and wall ride feature measuring 13 metres – the biggest feature of its type ever built for the Audi Nines and one that provides no end of options for the skiers and boarders alike.
Then there’s the fleet of Audi e-trons to ferry competitors and guests up to the ‘flight centres’ and around the resorts over the course of the week. Soundlessly making easy work of the slick conditions with all-electric quattro and feeling right at home in the Austrian Alps, as demonstrated earlier in the year not far from the site of the action.
The very idea behind the Audi Nines (which started life as the Nine Knights) has always been to push the envelope, both in the aerial acrobatics of the athletes but also in the individual courses and features they have to ride.
Over time, the Nine Knights have evolved and in 2011 added a completely new concept in the female-only Nine Queens. Snowboards were added to the formally ski-only line-up in 2013 and since 2018, the concept has become the Audi Nines, which includes a summer competition for Mountain Bikes. Same aerial athleticism and the same extraordinary courses and locations – just on mountain bikes.
The very idea behind the Audi Nines has always been to push the envelope – really push it
David Wise set a new world record for the highest ski air quarter pipe jump
Certainly for the Winter Audi Nines in 2019 it was mission accomplished as the world’s best lined up to push the boundaries to new limits once again. With spectators blown away but some of the new combinations and a night shoot at the Obergurgl-Hochgurgl site during the week, the excitement built to fever pitch by the time the final competition phase arrived.
One of the standouts of a week literally littered with standouts was David Wise’s new world record for the highest ski air quarter pipe jump. The dual Olympic gold medallist took to the skies and reached the dizzying height of 11.7 metres, shattering the record set by Simon Dumont way back in 2008 by close to a metre!
But this was just one achievement that can be measured in metres, while there was no shortage of performances that did what the Audi Nines always strives to do – pushing the bounds of possibility to a new place and seeing just where that goes.
These achievements are more difficult to put a number on, and although on the competition day, skiers and boarders in the male and female categories were judged on their performances, every single athlete was a standout.
What seemed impossible yesterday – was proved possible today. Which begs the very real question. Just how far can things go? There’s only one way to find out – next year.
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