Historic Wanaka Junior Worlds at mid-way point
The FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships in Wanaka, New Zealand, have now reached their mid-way point. After the first five days of competition and four medal events for ladies and men, the Wanaka Championships have already made history in more ways than one.
Besides being the first combined FIS Snowboard & Freestyle World Championships and the first FIS World Championships in New Zealand, they have also crowned the first FIS (junior) world champions in both snowboard and ski slopestyle.
On the opening competition day on Saturday, Staale Sanbech (17) of Norway and Enni Rukajärvi (20) of Finland became the first snowboard slopestyle junior world champions in snow sports history after astounding the judges with their level of riding. On Sunday, a technical snowboard cross course of significant magnitude greeted 66 of the world's elite junior riders at Lake Wanaka and saw Nikolay Olyunin (19) of Russia take the men's title whilst Eva Samkova (17) from the Czech Republic led the ladies' SBX field. History was made again on Monday as the USA dominated the first ski slopestyle world championships. Bobby Brown (19) and Jamie Crane-Mauzy (17) won the titles as four of the six medals went to the USA.
FIS Freestyle Coordinator Joe Fitzgerald commented: "The first FIS World Championships in ski slopestyle represent the great development in Freestyle Skiing over the past few years. There is an overwhelming amount of activity in terrain parks in pretty much every major ski nation and the number of parks is growing rapidly. These first Championships are a natural extension of these developments. The technical skills of the young skiers competing were amazing and beautiful to watch. This is pure Freestyle Skiing - creative, exceptionally innovative and all about getting some air!"
The snowboard half-pipe competitions saw the on-snow action move to Cardrona Alpine Resort where Cilka Sadar (18) of Slovenia and Taku Hiraoka (14) of Japan were crowned junior world champions after an exciting day of competition. The day also saw an all-star lineup with forerunners including Olympic gold medalist Kelly Clark (USA) and FIS Athletes' Commission member Juliane Bray (NZE).
So far, after eight sets of medals have been awarded and another nine medal competitions still to be earned, 13 nations have won medals in the Otago Region of New Zealand. The medals table is headed by the United States that has collected a whopping seven medals including two golds, followed by Finland and Slovenia each with a gold and a silver.
Dean Gosper, FIS Council member who officially opened the championships, said the historic first Snowboard slopestyle competitions were a great start to the event. "It's fantastic to see great conditions for the athletes...it's a spectacular setting and the event gives athletes an opportunity to perform at their best, helped by an amazing attention to detail by the organizers. Clearly the riding is at an elite level as it should be in a World Championship and I have no doubt the competition will continue to be very fierce throughout the week."
For further information and full results, especially live scoring, visit www.juniorworldsnz.co.nz.