Ruka, Finland, Feb 8th, 2009, 2009
Finnish Lapland Resort of Ruka Welcomes The North Face® Ski Challenge Presented by Gore-Tex® For The Second Time In The Country Of The Flying Finns !
The North Face Ski Challenge presented by Gore-Tex continued its tour this year by going to Ruka, in the Finnish Lapland to once again admire freestyle skills of the Flying Finns. Chilly temperatures didn’t prevent 33 kids from throwing a major freestyle show and ski difficult blown snow in freeride.
If there’s a country were our eyes are always turned to the skies, it’s Finland. This year again, we were amazed at the freestyle skills participants demonstrated! Their jumps and tricks in the air attracted a fascinated crowd in spite of the polar temperatures.This year again, and even if the Finnish winter vacations hadn’t started yet, 33 kids travelled sometimes more than 1000 kilometers to Ruka to participate in this year’s edition of the ski challenge.
And temperatures didn’t rise in spite of the hot freestyle show: Järi, our snowmobile driver in the park, said: “ It’s only -22°C but with the wind chill factor, it’s more like -50°C in fact !” And on the freeride day, it got even colder with wind chilled temperatures of -60°C !
Confirmation of mature talents.
Some of the young riders participating this year were already known to us and qualified again for the final in Val Thorens to be held at the end of March. Roppe Leppänen & Antijussi Heikkinen were two of the young skiers we knew would probably do well, as they demonstrated so much talent and skills last year. Roppe Leppännen: “ I clearly came here today to win and qualify for the final again. I was third last year in Val Thorens and when you see what happened to AJ Kemppainen, the first edition winner, it motivates you to come back and try to win”. For AJ Heikkinen, he has clearly come to qualify again and go back to the Alps.
Impossible to determine winner
If no girls showed up this year to participate, the Kings category was so competitive that the judges couldn’t determine who was the strongest skier between Roppe Leppänen and Aleksi Laitinen. Along with Ville Koskela and Juha Mourujärvi, who qualified in 3rd and 4th place, they will form a team that will come to the top of the Trois Vallées end of March with legitimate ambitions. Remains for them to train in more demanding snow conditions on steeper terrain to maybe win the ultimate prize: a sponsoring contract with The North Face, Dynastar and Lange.
Record number of qualified riders !
The jury decided to qualify 11 young riders this year in Ruka, setting a new record for pre qualified riders of the event series. William Revenaz, our starter: “ The kids here are really above the field in freestyle. And given the mountain here, I can understand why. But they’ve also improved their skills in freeride. Young Anttijussi Heikkinen for instance, came to Val Thorens and discovered big mountain skiing there. This year, he won’t come back to discover only !”
The North Face Ski Challenge presented by Gore-Tex now heads west to Âre next week end (Feb 14-15), located 1300 kms from Ruka. Then the young riders will come to Chamonix on Feb 28-Mar 1 before travelling to Jasna, Slovakia ( March 7-8).
All qualified riders will then meet in Val Thorens, France on March 27-28 to determine who’ll win the ultilmate prize: a sponsoring contract with The North Face, Dynastar and Lange and become a pro rider ! More info and applications online on www.thenorthface****/skichallenge
About The Competition
The Ski Challenge idea came to life when J.P. Baralo, a former freeski team manager, realized that there was no European outlet to showcase the potential of young, undiscovered freeskiers. Baralo approached The North Face, and created a new, unique event in which unknown kids from across Europe could demonstrate their skills and have an opportunity to make a name for themselves. The North Face Ski Challenge presented by Gore-Tex is open to all European residents, boys and girls, aged 12-18 and tours Europe all winter.