Everything about it is just right, the resort, the riding, the vibes, the parties, even just hanging out and seeing everyone together here again is awesome!
If you don’t know Henry Jackson you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past decade. Briefly described, Henry is THE king of all snowboard events MC’s. He’s been in the scene for ages, and knows every single anecdote about snowboarding. When he’s in Laax you can mostly find him at INDY bar, having some chili shots. That’s also where we met him to have a little chat about his thoughts on the LAAX Open.
Chat with Henry Jackson
Hello Henry, I guess we can say you are a veteran in Laax. For how many Opens have you been here?
I actually can’t remember, I have been a live MC on the snow for 4 years and before I did the live webcast, so I think I’ve must been here for the past 8 to 10 years.
That’s a quite some time! You have been witness of the evolution of this event in the past years. What can you tell us about the changes that the event has been through?
One of biggest changes is probably the switch from a fully open to an invite contest. Before pretty much everyone could sign up, go all the way through quali’s and potentially win. That is actually what happened to Brage Richenberg for example. The way the contest is set up nowadays, you have to get an invite or have a FIS license in order to join the contest. The fact that there’s no “Junior Jam” anymore is also something that changed from the previous Opens. Besides that, the park also moved it’s location. It was really good back in the days when it was at Plaun, but now it’s just ridiculously good! And of course the pipe, which became longer. This also changed the way it has to be ridden during the competition. Things around here always run “Swiss style”. I mean, things have always been running pretty smoothly around here. Especially through those transfers from Burton Open to Laax open and when Laax Open became a FIS Event.
Do you think there’s a difference between events that used to be independent or part of the World Snowboard Tour when comparing those to events organized by FIS?
TTR was awesome, it played a big role in the progression of snowboarding, though sometimes the format could be a little bit confusing. FIS is more black and white, you have the rules book, you read the rules, and you stick to them. They also use slightly different scoring systems. LAAX Open has luckily managed to keep the Semi Finals, which is something you won’t find at other world cup events. This basically means that on these events, you go from a hundred riders straight to only 10 riders. It seems like FIS is really willing to adapt in order to organize the best kind of events as well. Mixing the positive aspects of the two types of competitions is a good thing.
Some people had beef back in the days with the IOC/FIS, which escalated in boycotting the Olympic Games. The kids nowadays want to participate in the Olympics, and they will ride the events they need to ride in order to get there. FIS has done some good things to adapt to a more progressive format of snowboarding so I guess it’s time to get over it and move on.
Few more words you want to say on the LAAX Open?
I go to a lot of events, of every kind and everywhere around the world, and Laax Open is for sure my favorite one, hands down on that! Everything about it is just right, the resort, the riding, the vibes, the parties, even just hanging out and seeing everyone together here again is awesome!
Thank you for your time Henry. We know your job is weirder than ours, and we love the way you do it! Hope to see you soon.
Words: Gaia Giacomazzi
Pictures: Nicki Antognini
Location: Laax, Switzerland
Thanks to: Henry for the good times! and to all the riders who competed…