One of the most picturesque starting gates on the planet.     Photo: David Carlier

The Skiers Cup Is the Coolest Event in Skiing

Zermatt, Switzerland

The Skiers Cup, the equivalent of golf's Ryder Cup, pits Team Europe against Team America in a match-play format.

Athletes compete in two events, backcountry slopestyle and big mountain, and begin high on the mountain so they have room to create their own lines. The best riders in the world, including Seth Morrison, Cody Townsend, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and Callum Pettit, attended the event in February. They fought and lost to Europe’s squad, which featured Julien Reignier, Richard Permin, Sverrey Liliequist, Kaj Zackrisson, and Samuel Anthamatten. 

The event consist of 2 competitions in a week with the « creme de la crem » in freeskiing: a Backcountry Slopestyle event combining natural terrain and built kickers, and a Big Mountain Freeride day.
The best riders in the world attended the event, the likes of Seth Morrison, Cody Townsend, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Callum Pettit, Dana Flahr, Rory Bushfield, etc. for team Americas, fighting against Team Europe’s Julien Reignier, Richard Permin, Sverrey Liliequist, Kaj Zackrisson, Samuel Anthamatten, etc. to bring the Skiers Cup home.
It is rather unusual to have such an amazing group of riders ski on the Matterhorn at such a high level and in such great snow conditions. Actually it has never been done before as this is the first time they could ski the bottom of the Matterhorn, just under the North face. 
Shooting at the Skiers Cup has been a real pleasure as I was following the best freeskiers on earth in one of the best and most dramatic location there is, at the foot of the Matterhorn. But it has also been a great challenge to find the right positions to shoot from in order to grab the action in a nice and impressive way, but also frame the scenery of the place, and the immensity of the glaciers and 4000m peaks surrounding the riders. Very cold temperatures (-15°C) and strong winds were also an issue, as it is always tricky to cary a very heavy photo backpack, move fast and manipulate hi-tec gear in deep powder snow and windy conditions.
At some stage I had the chance to shoot directly from the open door of the helicopter which always provides an amazing angle to capture the action. In that case, the communication with the pilot is key to ensure a good positioning of the chopper and a smooth descent as we follow the riders.
It has been really Jaw dropping to witness the size of the jumps and the speed the riders reach in virgin untracked deep powder snow. It requires so much skills to be able to send freestyle tricks in such an « uncontrolled » environment.The Skiers Cup is the equivalent of the Ryder Cup in golf, Team Europe versus Team Americas in a match play format. The two events, backcountry slopestyle and big mountain, begin high up the mountain and give the athletes a lot of freedom for creativity to make their own lines. The best riders in the world attended the event this year, including Seth Morrison, Cody Townsend, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and Callum Pettit for Team Americas, who fought and lost to Europe’s squad that featured Julien Reignier, Richard Permin, Sverrey Liliequist, Kaj Zackrisson, and Samuel Anthamatten. 

  Photo: David Carlier

Shooting the Skiers Cup is always a pleasure, and this year was even more spectacular with the dramatic Matterhorn looming overhead. But it's always a challenge to find the right position to shoot from to capture the action, the scenery, with 4,000-meter peaks towering above the riders, and the immensity of the glaciers.

Single-digit temperatures and strong winds are also an issue, and they're compounded because I have to lug a heavy photo backpack, move fast, and manipulate high-tech gear. During some stages, I had the chance to shoot directly from the open door of the helicopter, which provided an amazing angle. In that case, the communication with the pilot is key to ensure good positioning of the chopper and a smooth descent as we follow the riders.

TOOLS: Nikon D810, 70-300mm, 1/5000 second, f/4.5, ISO 200

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