FIS Snowboard World Cup season's kicks off down under
This Olympic winter's first slopestyle and halfpipe events (September 3 – 9, 2017) will be staged during the bi-annual Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, the biggest recurring sport event of New Zealand and a long-time partner of the World Cup tour.
Slopestyle specialists drop in first
After long weeks of creative planning, tons of snow having been moved in and around Cardrona’s snowpark in order to put together a creative course, the world's best slopestyle riders will get things started this coming weekend with qualifiers scheduled for Sunday, September 3 and finals for Monday, September 4.
A star-studded field is ready to turn into the home stretch of the 'Road to PyeongChang' as the sole slopestyle World Cup event in the Southern hemisphere is one of three remaining slopestyle competitions prior to the season's highlight in South Korea.
As a result, riders like reigning Olympic champion Jamie Anderson (USA) who has been victorious in Cardrona in 2013 and 2015 and is looking for the three-peat as well as 2014 Olympic Silver medallist Enni Rukajarvi (FIN) alongside Sochi runner-up Stale Sandbech (NOR) and his fellow countryman and spinning wonder Marcus Kleveland have accepted long travels to get back in competition mode.
The list of entries also features the likes of big air world champion Anna Gasser (AUT), slopestyle world champion Laurie Blouin (CAN) and her teammate Spencer O'Brien, Silje Norendal (NOR), Katie Ormerod (GBR), NZ's hopefuls Christy Prior and Zoi Sadowski Synnott as well as US riders Karly Shorr and Julia Marino – all going for a top result in the women's event.
Over in the men's competition, Canada's very own Sebastien Toutant and Darcy Sharpe, two-time world champion Seppe Smits (BEL), Peetu Piiroinen (FIN), Billy Morgan (GBR) as well as a deep US roster led by Chris Corning and Red Gerard who won the Crystal Globe in 2016 and 2017, respectively, are also up for a good start to the new season.
Halfpipe promises top competition
A few days after the slopestyle competition took place, it's time for the halfpipe riders to impress the judges and wow the fans along the Cardrona superpipe.
And with some of the world's finest going to strap in, there is a lot to expect from the season's first halfpipe World Cup which is slated to take place on September 8 (qualifiers) and 9 (finals).
Besides the top-4 of the 2014 Sochi halfpipe contest Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI), Ayumu Hirano, Taku Hiraoka (both JPN) and snowboard superstar Shaun White (USA) also two-time world champion Scotty James (AUS) is keen to throw down.
In addition, riders like Pat Burgener (SUI) and Chase Josey (both USA) have also left behind a good impression in the past season.
Over in the women's event, there are also several athletes standing out.
With Chloe Kim (USA) and Kelly Clark (USA) it's the possibly biggest halfpipe talent on earth meeting up with the most successful snowboarder of all times.
Above that, Clark is looking back on two halfpipe wins in Cardrona already, a feat which only Xuetong Cai (CHN) was able to pull off so far, too. However, the 2017 World Cup title winner as well as the whole Chinese team have not registered yet for the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ.
But riders like 2010 Olympic champion Torah Bright (AUS), Haruna Matsumoto (JPN), two-time world championships Bronze medallist Clemence Grimal (FRA) as well as Arielle Gold and Elena Hight (both USA) are also worth watching and promise a good show.
Sunday, Sep 3, 9:30 AM local: slopestyle qualifiers (two runs, best one counts)
Monday, Sep 4, 12:30 PM local: slopestyle finals (three runs, best one counts), ten ladies and 16 men
Friday, Sep 8, 9:10 AM local: halfpipe qualifiers (two runs, best one counts)
Saturday, Sep 9, 11 AM local: halfpipe finals (three runs, best one counts), six ladies and ten men