Olympic snowboard Gold medallists promise spectacular action at Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015

24 July 2015 17:04
Kelly Clark will be the one to beat in August when she returns to Cardrona again
Kelly Clark will be the one to beat in August when she returns to Cardrona again -
Oliver Kraus

The appearance of internationally renowned Olympic medallists Kelly Clark of USA and Iouri “iPod” Podladtchikov of Switzerland has raised the bar even higher in the FIS Snowboard World Cup Halfpipe competition at Audi quattro Winter Games 2015 and promises even more spectacular action in the Snowboard Big Air closing event.

Clark is a trailblazer in her sport and billed as the most successful snowboarder ever – male or female – winning the 2002 Winter Olympic halfpipe gold medal and bronze medals in 2010 and 2014 along with five Winter X Games halfpipe wins.

In August, she returns to defend her Winter Games NZ 2013 halfpipe gold at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Russian-born Podladtchikov now represents Switzerland and is a force to be reckoned with, after clocking a string of impressive titles since his first competition in 2007, capped off with the coveted halfpipe gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

Other big names signed up for next month’s Audi quattro Winter Games NZ in the women’s halfpipe are Hikaru Oe of Japan, French star Mirabelle Thovex and Australia’s Holly Crawford.

Two 2013 medallists, Taku Hiraoka of Japan and Christian Haller of Switzerland who took silver and bronze respectively will be in the hunt in the men’s field again this year, along with Slovenian Tim-Kevin Ravnjak who placed third at the 2015 FIS Snowboard World Championships in Austria.

The FIS Snowboard World Cup Slopestyle has attracted Austria’s Anna Gasser and Enni Rukajarvi of Finland who won silver at the Sochi Olympics.

New Zealand Sochi Olympic representative Christy Prior will be a key competitor in slopestyle after recording impressive 2015 results with a first place at the Burton European Open and third place at X Games.

Top ranked men include slopestyle specialist Yuki Kadono of Japan, Canada’s Michael Ciccarelli winner of his home FIS World Cup Slopestyle at Stoneham last February and Lucien Koch of Switzerland who won the FIS World Cup Slopestyle in the Czech Republic in March.

Talented eighteen-year-old Carlos Garcia-Knight, New Zealand’s silver medal winner in slopestyle at the World Junior Championships 2015 in China, will lead the Kiwi men’s charge competing in slopestyle.

The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ are New Zealand’s biggest recurring sports event.

The fourth biennial Games take place from 21 to 30 August in Queenstown, Lake Wanaka and Naseby. All sports and festival events are free to watch for spectators (ski pass required to access lifts) and will be broadcast free-to-air on TV3 with live streaming on the Games website. More information is available at www.wintergamesnz.kiwi and its social media channels.