After a tough decision making process, the team selection for 2009 has now been made.
"For the quality of the event and to ensure competitor security (since they perform in tough mountain conditions), we have limited the number of teams to five. These teams represent over 60 people for which the security will be assured by the 'Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix'", explains David Carlier, director of the organization. "The selection was not easy because we received candidatures from all over the world and we were obliged to narrow our selection putting aside great teams."
The Ride the Planets Team will be one of the teams back in action;
"Invited because we won last year, we are coming to enjoy the event with no pressure. Of course, during the event, in the heat of the action, we will want to win again, but for the moment, we are only concentrated on the images and scenario," explains Claude Adam, team leader.
In the air, the ‘Soul Flyers' will participate with athletes like Antoine Montant (France), acrobatic paragliding champion and speed riding specialist, Julian Boulle (South Africa) and Geraldine Fasnacht (Switzerland) in wingsuit flying. She is also one of the world's best snowboarders (winner of the Nissan Xtreme de Verbier in 2004) so she might change her wingsuit and parachute for her snowboard in the film.
The Spanish paraglider, Felix Rodriguez, with his brother, Raoul, will join the competitors list. They have won almost everything in the discipline and have also invented lots of acrobatic figures, will join the group. To complete the team, Thomas Diet, the upcoming star of freestyle backcountry skiing will make the powder talk.
Aurelien Ducroz, professional freerider in the top three of the Freeride World Tour, has chosen to create his own team.
"Pretty much, I wanted to bring back last year's team. We got along so well even with all the fatigue and stress related to a week of production. Also, the athletes are exceptional and I wanted to keep this core."
So, Herman Pitocco, the Argentinean vice World Champion in paragliding, Francois Bon, (France) who did his first ever speed riding with Aurelien Ducroz on the Mont Blanc (who then was the first on the Aconcagua then Everest), base jumper Seb Collomb-Gros (France), a world reference, are coming back to the Mont Blanc for a week of insanity. In skiing, Aurelien sought out American Rachel Burks, who already has people talking over seas and should give a show in Chamonix. Leading this great team, the smiling Karina Hollekim (freerider and base jumper) will coordinate the team and keep them motivated since she has been fighting to get back on skis for the past three years after an injury. For the technical aspect, the Focus production company will get it all on tape.
The Dream Team includes Shane McConkey, a star freerider and base jumper who was first to perform both disciplines on the Eiger. He is also known for his extreme ski images in the USA. BY his side, his friend and compatriot, JT Holmes, who is also a ski/base specialist in the big productions: another name that will attract a crowd. Austrian Eric Themel, ‘Team Leader' and avid snowboarder with an impressive list of accomplishments, says "I am not the manager. Our decisions are taken together. We are in this together because we are friends. All the team members are really creative and a little insane. We like to laugh hard and loud... that will be our best strength at the Nissan Outdoor Games."
The team also has three more characters, Jamesz Stentiford, an English big mountain snowboarder, rather a rare specimen, Austrian Jens Reidesser as director, Norwegian photographer, Johan Whikhagen, more specialized in sailing yet with an Alpine touch; with several other key figures in the milieu and you get a smiling team with personality and charisma.
At the summer Nissan Outdoor Games in Interlaken, this Germanic Team Argon came together. Encounters, emotions and the willingness to be a part of the winter edition in Chamonix made this team reinforce their team with winter sports specialists.
They have also fixed their strategy based on their first experience; "contrary to a lot of teams, we have really banked a lot on our scenario, not necessarily using the most impressive images that were shot. Our goal for this edition is to find the balance between action images and the story. We have in fact started working on this kicking back with a few beers to prepare for February!" explains Flo Orley, hang gliding specialist as well as 3rd in the Freeride World Tour 2008 ranking in snowboard.
The core of this team is Austrian with Hubert Shober and Andy Raciz (base jumpers) as well as Daniel Wolf, the editor, and Stuart Knowles, the English photographer, who will surround Flo for this event. The little blonde, Aline Bock, young German snowboarder will join the team with her passion for the mountain and her energy to motivate the team along with Roman Reiner, the Swiss freerider and Torsten Siegel, the German paraglider. The German mountaineer Daniel Gebel, ice climbing specialist just back from Patagonia, will join the team at the last minute.
The fifth team, Team Golgoht, brings some Scandinavian magic
"The concept of this event that mixes high level athletic performance with visual creations is just crazy and a MUST for us. Just to participate is awesome" says Jarkki Henttonen (Finland), team leader.
"I also think that all athlete/producer dreams of participating. To be surrounded by such talent and expertise with whom you can share and exchange for one week is really cool. We are proud to have been selected to defend our film in Chamonix."
The team is comprised of friends, which is great: "each person is good in their area" says Jarkko discretely. Golgoht is definitely the most prolific team in finding ‘out there' ideas, which works for them thanks to the technical level of their athletes but also thanks to the Finnish production team, very pro but with a quirky side!
The headliners are Fred Syverson, the 42-year-old Norwegian freerider, who hold the record for the highest cliff jump on skis (though was not done on purpose): 107m, as well as Jarkko Henttonen, the Finnish big mountain snowboarder, team leader for this Scandinavian team. Last year, Golgoht recruited someone at the last minute, a notable figure of Chamonix: a Japanese tourist at the Aiguille du Midi! What will they do this year to surprise us?