It ends where it all started. Right here in Davos. In 1996 a quiet, shy, pimple pocked, braces wearing DJ, Skate, Snowboarder punk won his first major title only meters from where this piece is being penned. It was a Swiss Championships. And his name was Gian Simmen. To celebrate the man, and his last official contest here at the O’Neill Evolution, Gian has organized a ‘Legends Session’ – and legendary it was.
Talking about Gian makes me smile. You see, I met Gian in the back of a bus as the Ballantines Urban Air event in Vallencia, Spain, back in 1996. Rarely had I ever met such a shy and introverted person, sitting alone with himself, massive earphones wrapping his head, where all attempts to motivate him were acknowledged by a shy, braces filled grimace that merely confirmed my belief he didn’t understand a single word I’d just spoken. Later I’d the chance to see him ride – not bad, but not exceptional. Only a couple of month’s later, Gian won the first Halfpipe Olympic gold medal in Nagano in 1998… and I couldn’t help but think, “Great. The kid doesn’t talk at all… What an outstanding spokesperson for snowboarding we’ve just created.” I’m not scared to say that many people in the know – thought exactly the same thing.