The first ever Sosh Big Air was held in downtown Annecy (France) this autumn. A look back on this fab funky event and the people who made it happen (big ups to our buddies at Sosh :D).
Gaylord Pedretti, the man in charge of Sosh Big Air
Orange Pop: Where did the idea for this event come from?
Gaylord Pedretti: We all love skiing and snow sports but the problem is that they take place in the mountains. Paradoxically, while these are the ultimate spectator sports, not many fans make it up the mountain to watch them. We wanted to hold a spectator-friendly freestyle event right downtown, before the ski and snowboard season opened. Annecy was the obvious choice since it’s home base for so many alpine sports in France. The idea of attracting so many top-notch freeskiers for some frosty urban freestyling was just too tempting. It was a huge challenge that we met with an emphatic, “Yes we can!”
O Pop: How tough is it to hold this kind of event right smack in the middle of a city?
GP: It’s a huge undertaking. It took 3 weeks, massive cranes, and a lot of heavy construction. The ramp was 45 meters, higher than the buildings around it. What with France’s heightened security measures, we had to convince the authorities to allow the event to take place. But truth to tell, I like doing difficult things: after all, no one’s ever pulled something like this off.
O. Pop: What kind of rapport does this kind of event create between city-dwellers and snow sports enthusiasts?
GP: I remember talking to a granny watching the event through binoculars. I complimented her on her kit and she said: “I’ve never seen anything like this and I’ll surely never see anything like it again!” The president of Annecy’s football team even post-poned their match so his team could come watch Sosh Big Air! And to get everyone into it, we had the crowd do the judging and designate the winners. It got everyone involved.
Gaylord Pedretti © David Malacrida
Kevin Rolland, freestyle skier
Orange Pop: How are ramp skiing and alpine stunt skiing different?
Kevin Rolland: Skiing on a ramp is weird because you have no contact with the snow until you hit the slope. One minute you’re an urban dude in sneakers, the next you’re a pro rider. Pretty bizarre.
O. Pop: This Big Air rig is the largest of its kind ever built. How do you train for this event when there’s nothing like this ramp anywhere in the world? How do athletes deal with the fear factor?
KR: There’s always some fear during the first run because it’s a leap into the unknown. Plus, skiers are used to alpine scenery, so a backdrop as incongruous as a center city spooks them a bit. But once they get into it, the fun takes over and they have a ball.
O. Pop: The Sosh Big Air ramp is in the heart of Annecy. As an athlete, how does this urban venue change your mental approach?
KR: In general, I like skiing around a little bit before I hit the course. It warms me up, relaxes me, and gives me the feel of the snow. At Sosh Big Air, you just jump into it and you’ve only got 50 meters of downhill to get used to it before the jump.;)
Kevin Rolland © Louis Garnier
Sandy Alibo, Director of Sponsoring at Sosh
Orange Pop: What brand image advantages do sponsors get out of backing an event like this?
Sandy Alibo: Almost 20,000 spectators came to Annecy to see Sosh Big Air over its two-day run. And we had 4 million hits’ worth of visibility thanks to coverage in 213 media of some form or other, 20% of which were TV stories that totaled 2 hours and 30 minutes. That’s the equivalent of 1,500,000 euros of advertising! (source: argus). Web coverage was very strong, with 54 million impressions on social media (source: radarly).
O. Pop: Why organize an event like this in the heart of a major French city?
SA: Sosh is constantly on the lookout for things that are bold and unusual. Big Air-type events are commonplace worldwide but have never been held in France. We wanted to put on a show that brings together the world of international freeskiing and the general public. That’s where the idea of hosting the event in an urban setting came from. It offers brands maximum visibility as opposed to the small turnouts alpine competitions attract. The challenge was to find the perfect spot to host this world-class extravaganza.
O. Pop: Will this lead to similar events in the hearts of other big cities?
SA: Next year, our star event is the Sosh Freestyle Cup in Marseilles, June 2017 (one of the official competitions collectively referred to as the BMX Freestyle Park World Cup), the Sosh Highlight in Paris, May of 2017 (a skate photo and video contest) and the Sosh Urban Motion in Paris, October of 2017 (BMX photo and video contest).
Sosh is now a major promoter of freestyle sporting events. We contribute to the global strategy of competition-hosting, teaming up with Orange Events Solutions to furnish cutting-edge technology, HD WiFi, social wall, and livestreaming. The result is an unforgettable digitally enhanced experience!
Sandy Alibo © Sandy Alibo