It's that time of year again. The Air & Style Beijing, presented by Oakley and Shaun White, goes down early tomorrow morning (or very late tonight, depending on how you schedule your Friday evening activities), kicking off the beginning of the World Snowboard Tour (formerly known as TTR) 6Star contest season. This year X Games Aspen is joining the 2012 WST tour for the first time, which is reason enough to be excited for the start of this winter contest madness, but in another first, the Air & Style is also being live webcast on ESPN3 and rebroadcast on ESPN2.
You can catch the webcast live right here on espn.com/action starting at 3:30 a.m. PST, 6:30 a.m. ET. (It will be available as a replay throughout Saturday, if that's too early for you.) If your cable provider is not signed up as an ESPN3 online webcast partner fear not, we will have a recap of the event here Saturday, with a highlight video up Saturday night, and a one-hour contest recap show will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.
Meanwhile, over in China, Werni Stock unfortunately slammed during the practice session yesterday and has pulled out of the contest, but the rest of the riders are warmed up and ready. The contest will go down in a two-person head-to-head format, with riders advancing through rounds to a Super Final with a prize purse of $100,000 on the line. We'll undoubtedly see some double corks, some 1440s, and it's possible that Ulrik Badertscher might throw the double rodeo variation (or whatever you call it -- feel free to argue it out in the comments section) that won him the contest last year. However, since "style" is as important as "air" in this contest, we're hoping some riders keep the momentum started last winter to bring it back to that.
More importantly, we hope the judges will remember that -- when a rider comes along who is willing to take a chance and put the effort in to make it look really, really good -- sometimes a slow, styled-out 720 deserves more points than a double huck. We've got a candle lit over here, and are keeping the faith. Style coupled with innovation, after all, is the reason so many of us fell in love with the Air & Style contest format in the first place.
While we're waiting for things to kick off on the other side of the world, we've got a preview video with Sage Kotsenburg and Chas Guldemond, who are going head-to-head in Round 1, taking us through the jump setup. Peetu Piiroinen is getting an automatic advance to Round 2. The rest of the Round 1 matchups, determined by rider-draw, are as follows:
Air & Style Beijing 2012 Round 1:
Peetu Piiroinen vs. n/a
Sage Kotsenburg vs. Chas Guldemond
Petja Piiroinen vs. Clemens Schattschneider
Antoine Truchon vs. Sven Thorgren
Mark McMorris vs. Mathias Weisenbacher
Seppe Smits vs. Eric Beauchemin
Ståle Sandbech vs. Pat Burgener
Sebastien Toutant vs. Victor de la Rue
Roope Tonteri vs. Max Parrot
(Werner Stock) vs. Yuki Kadono
Marko Grilc vs. Emil Ulsletten
Ulrik Badertscher vs. Torgeir Bergrem