German skiing star Bene Mayr is pumped about the upcoming backcountry freeskiing extravaganza, Red Bull Linecatcher, which takes place in the rugged wilderness of the French Alps. Kirsten Corrigan grabbed a few minutes with him ahead of the jaw-dropping contest, which starts on January 15th in Vars, France.
“I think it’s going to be a great event and I am really looking forward to it,” says the 21-year-old Mayr.
Bene Mayr Fast Facts
- Hails from Munich, Germany
- Competing in his 3rd Linecatcher event; finished 4th in '09, 5th in '10
- Won Best Trick in '09 for a Misty 720
- Will compete in his first Winter X Games in Aspen on January 27-30
With the benefit of experience to bolster him in the exclusive competition, which will see big names such as Canada’s Sean Pettit and Richard Permin from France dazzling the judges, Bene isn’t planning to come home without some hardware. The riders must wow the judges with their ability to combine smooth, fluid lines with precision mid-air tricks, with the most versatile freestyle skier taking the prestigious crown.
“Last year, Candide Thovex won the contest but he’s not riding this year. Sean Pettit is a really strong contender,” says Bene about the form on the snow this year. “For sure, he could get a podium place, but I think everyone who is there has a chance of winning. You need a bit of luck, of course, but it’ll be whoever has the best day that wins. It’s going to be really interesting out there.”
Red Bull Linecatcher: Freeskiing at its Finest
With the competition broken up into sections - Qualifying and the Final - the riders are split into two groups. For some, like Bene, there is an automatic place in the main event while a group of 16 additional riders will have to battle it out for just two remaining places given to the winners of Qualifying.
During the main contest, there will then be three runs down the Eyssina ridge, where the riders can try to better their score with each attempt. The ambitious German skier believes the key to success will be focusing on his own style and laying down a solid run on the first go.
“The way I think you have to approach it is that for the first round you need to have a safe run and then you can try to push it and do something better after that,” adds Bene. “You get three runs, but the first one is the most important as the conditions are usually the best. You’re not as tired either – it's a very long run!”
Hotly tipped for a podium place, Bene isn’t counting his chickens just yet and says he won’t be celebrating until a win is in the bag. “It is difficult to say what I’ll do to try to impress the judges at this stage. It’s tough as I haven’t seen the face this year and it’s always different,” he explains. “It will change depending on the snow conditions - that is the biggest factor to work out what you can and can’t do. It’s hard to tell now what the weather will be like next week but I’m pretty sure we’re going to have one or two good days.”
With the rugged terrain and added freedom of riding off-piste comes an increased unknown factor for the riders, which is why they all ski with full-on safety equipment. Emergency beacons, shovels, probes and the obligatory safety helmet are all essential kit for this type of sport.
“You have to have all this stuff with you when you do this and it’s a big difference to other skiing,” adds Bene. “It’s out of bounds so it’s very different to riding on a perfectly-shaped jump. But that’s the cool thing about it - you have to use your instincts.”
Follow @redbull on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news and information.