Laax swatch event (BoarderX finals)

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 From April 8 to 11, 1999, a great event organized by the International and Swiss Swatch Club took place in Laax, Switzerland during the BoarderX finals.

Hard working Swatch The Club employees!

Around 60 people from all around the Europe (UK, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Germany) took part at the event for three days, around 140 more collectors came on the saturday during the main event and the finals of the BoarderX.  The event was very well organized and definitely worth the money because everything (hotel, skipass, restaurants) was already prepaid.

On thursday evening, we met in the lobby of our **** hotel (it was excellent!) and everybody got a swatch (the special Korkscrew access for club members and a regular BoarderX swatch for accompanying persons) and the special BoarderX backpack (sorry, no photo so far). It is black and features an orange X.  Later, we went to a typical swiss restaurant (the Muhbarack) for an excellent swiss cheese fondue.  We also had plenty of good white wine.

Therefore, it was hard to get up on friday morning, especially because the weather was not so good (hence no bad pictures from this day :-).  Swatch had organized a skiing instructor and a snowboard instructor for everyone who was interested in some sports.  Many people tried snowboarding for the first time (I'm too old for that :-), I'll stick with skiing).  Not too many injuries, though.  In the evening, we went up the mountain again for a pizza in the Crap Sogn Gion mountain station.  We also saw many of the snow boarders (they were all wearing the special Korkscrew access) in the restaurant.  I think that Shaun Palmer was sitting only a few tables away.  Later in the evening we had an open air concert with some bad (my opinion :-) hip hop music.  But it was a real experience to go down with the cable railway late in the evening when it was completely dark outside and the stars were shining brightly from the sky...

On saturday, the BoarderX finals took place.  The organizers were really really lucky because the weather was perfect!  Sunny and really warm. Swatch was all over the place, especially on the top of the restaurant:

This "swatch man" measures at least 10 meters!

You could also watch the snow boarders on a giant TV screen:

Have a look at the great pirate flags on the top!
We were really tempted to "borrow" one...

 Here are some impressions from the race:


First jump, too bad that I have no photo of the following water-jump.

Another jump

A "tunnel" shortly before the finish line.

Swatch The Club had organized a special surprise for 2PM in the afternoon.  The big swatch boss, Nick Hayek sr.

Nick Hayek sr. arrives.

came to the Tipi village (yes, there were around 20 tents in about 2000m altitude where some of the snow boarders were sleeping in the night, brrr...) and was available to talk to club members and giving autographs.  Swatch had prepared a special card which he signed for everyone who wanted one.

Nick Hayek sr. at work.                   N. Hayek sr. and Patrick Ashforth ( head of Swatch The Club Intl.)

Nick Hayek sr. also signed lots of other stuff (including one watch, probably by mistake :-)  As far as I remember, he stayed for at least one and a half hour before all club members had what they wanted.  Time for a small sun bath later:

Time to relax!

As you can see on the following photo, the collectors were really happy after this day:

From left to right:  Valter, Ricardo, Peter.  Notice the pirate flag!  I wish I had one :-)

Can you spot the autograph on my vest??

Later in the evening, there was another open air concert (Sugar Hill Gang) which I missed because we dined too long.  When we arrived at 11.30PM on the top of the mountain, the concert was already over :-(  And the music in the several discos was too much techno... But we all really enjoyed the whole day.

On Sunday, we had to say goodbye to everyone.  We did not go skiing although the ski pass was loaded on our Korkscrew access swatch.  The weather was too bad again:  A little rain and lots of fog.  Have I already remarked that the organizers of the event were lucky on saturday?  On our way home, we spent two hours in a traffic jam shortly after the swiss-german boarder but that is a different story...

A truly remarkable event.  Hopefully we all can meet again soon.  Maybe at the next big event in early August (5th to 8th) during the pan american games in Canada.  Swatch The Club is planning something.

Andreas Wiethoff
April, 15th, 1999.

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