The Stomping Grounds Project 2021 – New Levels of Progression in Saas Fee as Athletes prepare for Olympic Season

October 28th, 2021

 

Japan’s Ayumu Hirano was setting the level in Saas Fee and after two Olympic silver medals has his sights set on halfpipe gold. Photo: Jimmy Williams

Mountainwatch | Reggae Elliss

The Stomping Grounds Project, founded and directed by Australian terrain park builder Charles Beckinsale, is into its sixth year, and each year the sessions on the Allalin Glacier in Saas Fee, Switzerland attracts the worlds’ best park and pipe skiers and snowboarders for pre-season training.

This year was no different with two sessions held, the first from October 4-15 and the second October 16-27 which wrapped up yesterday.  Each year The Stomping Grounds is the scene of progressive riding as the world’s best push each other in the perfect park and pipe and over 200 athletes were getting in some pre-season training over the past few weeks.

 

Australia’s Scotty James, preparing for his fourth Olympics as he chases that elusive gold medal.

The Winter Olympics are starting in just over three months on  February 4 and this northern hemisphere comp season is a big one, athletes vying for qualification and this year’s Stomping Grounds Project attracted a who’s-who of the world’s leading park and pipe riders. That includes a number of medal favourites including snowboarders Scotty James, Ayumu Hirano, Shaun White, Mark McMorris, Chloe Kim and Jamie Anderson and skiers Alex Hall, Mac Forehand, Fabian Bosch, Eileen Gu and Alex Ferreira.

On the Australian front snowboarders Matty Cox, Valentino Guseli and Emily Arthur made their way to Saas Fee. Unfortunately Valentino broke his wrist early in the first week but is hopeful he’ll be OK for the Olympics

 

The Stomping Grounds is the perfect set up for progressive riding. Looks amazing.

It’s been a busy year for Charles, he was contracted to build jumps in both Perisher and Thredbo this winter and also designing the jump for the new big air facility in Jindabyne which is set to open in a few weeks. Charles left Jindy for Switzerland in early September, the build in Saas Fee starting on September 7 and the weather has been close to perfect this year with only a couple of down days due to snow at the start of the first week. That is great for the athletes but is also means Charles and master pipe builder Jeremy Carpenter have had only three days off since he arrived.

 

Fabian Bosch as won the World Champs and X Games and is looking to bring home a medal for Switzerland in Februarys’ Winter Olympics.

When I spoke to him yesterday Charles was stoked with this year’s Stomping Grounds as it has again been the scene of some incredible progression, particularly in snowboarding where the Japanese riders are pushing the envelope.

“It’s looking like the most mass progressive moment in snowboarding’s recent history with all these new tricks happening at the one place,” Charles said. “All the best riders are here pushing things together and the mood at the pipe today was electric. “They are having to go around 20ft out to complete these tricks and every time one was landed the pipe erupted with the crew screaming. I witnessed three landed triples before lunchtime today, the game has elevated.”

 

Charles has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s best park builders, his accurately designed jumps built with safety and progression in mind while Jeremy Carpenter has garnered similar praise for his halfpipes.

“The performances in the pipe are a testament to Jeremy being able to build a perfect halfpipe for these riders to spend the pre-season in,” Charles said. “It is firm, but the shape is on point like the riders like it.”

The result has been a slew of NDBs (never done before) including Ayumu Hirano’s first ever landed frontside triple cork 14 in the halfpipe. Fellow Japanese rider Yuto Totsuka followed up the day after with the second frontside 14 and then the first ever cab triple 14 the day that following day.  Olympic champ Chloe Kim became the first female to land a cab 12 in the pipe while Maddie Mastro is first female to land a frontside double 1080 in the pipe.

 

Chloe Kim  landed the first cab 12 by a female in the Pipe.

On the skiing side, the first session was the high point as most of the top skiers left around the 16thto compete to in the first World Cup Big Air of the season in Chur, Switzerland which started on October 19. Prior to that the pipe was all about 14s and 1620s, two-time X games champ Alex Ferreira, Eileen Gu and Canada’s Brendan McKay laying down some impressively smooth runs while Sarah Hoffelin, Mac Forehand and Fabian Bosch were slaying it the park.

Check out the Stomping Grounds Project Instagram page to see the progressive riding that went down over the past month.

 

Olympic champ Sarah Hoefflin was one of the standout athletes in the park.

 

Alex Ferreira has won gold twice in his hometown Xgames in Aspen and has a big season ahead.

 

Mark McMorris was the standout all rounder among the snowboarders, riding pipe, rails, jumps and transition features with his usual style.