FinlandÂ’s Pekka Ruokanen is 2006 Billabong World Junior Pro Champion

Switzerland's Sina Gandrain takes the Girl's title,
Belgium's Christophe Reydners wins the Tristan Picot Memorial.
Les 2 Alpes, March 7th , 2006—for its third consecutive edition, the Billabong World Junior Pro Les 2 Alpes lived up to its expectations and revealed or confirmed the talent of a new generation of snowboarders. The Billabong World Junior Pro is part of the official pro snowboarding circuit, the TTR (Ticket to Ride) and is open to all juniors under 20, coming from all over the world. Combining invited pro riders with amateurs qualified through trial events, the Billabong World Junior Pro Les 2 Alpes is a definite stepping stone for a professional career.
42 riders were registered in the Boys' competition, 8 riders came from the qualifying events (VZ Trials in Europe, and Billabong Pro Junior in Australia, New Zealand and Canada). The US junior team was also invited to join in the event due to their outstanding performance throughout the season. The Girls division included 18 riders this year (compared to 5 last year)..
For the second consecutive year, the competition was staged at Les 2 Alpes, a resort in the French Alps, renown for its great snowpark of La Toura and its involvement in snowboarding.
Over the 4-day waiting period, the weather was the most difficult part of the equation due to strong snowfalls at the start, clearing up to blue skies on Monday but with heavy north winds which eventually turned south-west (affecting directly the snowpark) and freezing temperatures.
The Boys' final gathered 12 riders, including Dylan Bidez (USA), Piotr Janosz (Poland, and qualified through theVZ Trials), Matt Daneau (Canada), Pekka Ruokanen (Finland), Frederik Evensen (Norway), Clint Allen (Australia), Mitch Allen (Australia), Niko Hakala (Finland), Arthur Longo (France), Christophe Rydners (Belgium), Eric Botner (Norway) and Rob Corneliessen (Belgium).
The 1-hour final heat allowed each rider to take three runs. Pekka Ruokanen got the most of the park at his third run. "I had nothing left to loose, and the wind has dropped, so it was time to try something" said an elated Ruokanen, who did not expect to win in front of such a field. He stuck a Cab 900 and Bakside 720, to finish with a McTwist and Rodeo 720 on the Pipe. He took a 10 000 Euros cheque.
Second was Norway's Frederik Evensen and Australia's Clint Allen.
The Girls' finals were staged between 8 riders including 3 US juniors (Kendall Brown, Cori McCullough and Lizzie Bergman), Switzerland's Sina Gandrian, Billabong team riders Sophie Rodriguez (France) and Abby Bright (Australia), Holland's Mandy Longbroek and Anne Sophie Pelissier (France).
Sina Gandrian took the lead with a 720 Frontside (and was the only girl to stick such a rotation), and pocketed a 1500 Euros cheque. Second was USA's Lizzie Bergmann and third was Mandy Longbroek.
In addition to the main event, Billabong awards a special trophy to the best amateur of the competition. This year's Tristan Picot Memorial Trophy (*) goes to Belgium's Christophe Rydners who has put on the most impressive act throughout the event, whether it'd be during the competition as well as the Night Rail Session, a freestyle demo which took place on Monday evening.
Christophe Rydners, (Billabong team rider) was the only rider in the competition to take the rail in boardslide. He will receive prime media coverage in the pan European magazine Method Media, and some prize money as well.
(* Tristan Picot was the best up-and-coming snowboarders in the Billabong team and one of Europe's best riders when he passed away in an avalanche in January 4 th , 2003. Billabong celebrates Tristan's memory in the form of this trophy which reveals and promotes new snowboarders).
The prizes were awarded to the winners during the prize ceremony at the Billabong Store in Les 2 Alpes, property of Billabong freeriderYannick Amevet. It was followed by a party at the Avalanche club where Epitaph label (partner of the event) premiered the video "Bad Religion, live at the Palladium".
The Billabong World Junior Pro Les 2 Alpes is featured in a dedicated website where all info, photos and videos are available.
The Billabong World Junior Pro Les 2 Alpes is supported by Les 2 Alpes, Von Zipper, Epitaph, and Europe 2, as well as the major European snow magazines.