Skiing's newest invitational or rather "inventational" event debuted this weekend, as Phil Casabon and Henrik Harlaut hosted the inaugural B&E Inventational in Les Arcs, France.
The dynamic duo of Casabon and Harlaut, well-known as innovators of style in terrain park skiing, played host to 20 skiers invited to session the event's unique course, a halfpipe and skate-bowl creation featuring plenty of options including rails, wallrides and hip hits. The unusual variety of the invited list -- which included freeskiing legends, top competition pros and young up-and-comers alike -- combined with the progressive and playful course, made quite a show for the few thousand onlookers who gathered at the venue at the Arcs 1800 base area.
Participating skiers ranged from underground style heroes in the ski scene such as Dave Crichton, Corey Vanular and Liam Downey, to top competitive pros like American halfpipe skier and all-around talent Torin Yater-Wallace, to living legends like Candide Thovex.
Casabon and Harlaut said they picked the invite list based on who has influenced and inspired their own skiing styles. "Having these guys skiing next to you is way different than seeing them in a video," said Casabon. "I still got the feeling like when I was a young kid, of standing next to someone who has a big influence in your life."
"I got a message with the invite and thought, 'How can I turn that down?'" said Crichton, who wowed audiences with his style in Level 1 Productions movies a decade ago before retiring from professional skiing. "It's an extreme honor to be invited."
In a jam-session format, the invited skiers explored the myriad transitions of the venue while competing for a number of prizes including best trick, best style and overall winner. Competitors said the event had much more of the vibe of a ski session among old friends than a competition.
"It didn't really feel like a competition," said participating skier Parker White, who joined the crew along with his "Big Picture" cohort Chris Logan. "It was just shredding, the way it should be."
After three riding sessions spaced throughout the day, the athletes voted among themselves to determine winners. Host Casabon picked up best style, while Emile Bergeron's double cork 720 on the top hip feature earned him the award for best trick. The title of overall winner went to American halfpipe star Yater-Wallace.
"I respect what Phil and Henrik are doing for skiing," said Thovex, who was voted people's choice by the audience watching the event's live web stream. "There are two schools today, one that's more academic, but Phil and Henrik are all about style and I really respect that."