US Snowboarding with strong showing in Cardrona slopestyle qualifiers
The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ action returned to the world-class slopestyle course at Cardrona Alpine Resort today with the who’s who of snowboarding on the hunt for coveted World Cup points.
The women were the first to drop into the course this morning and American riders Hayley Langland and Jamie Anderson the top qualifiers in their respective heats.
Langland earned her top score of 92.00 on her second run of two, impressing the judges with her technical rail section which included a lipslide over the bridge, a seatbelt to fakie in the quarter pipe, a switch boardslide to regular over the flatdown and a 50-50 over the Audi feature.
The 17-year-old finished her run off with a frontside 360 melon, backside 540 stalefish and a cab 540 mute on the three-jump kicker line.
Coming off the back of a strong northern hemisphere season in which she had earned a second rank finish in the Mammoth Mountain Slopestyle World Cup and X Games gold in big air, she was always on the one-to-watch list.
However, Langland faced stiff competition from Japan's reigning national champion Reira Iwabuchi who scored a 90.00 on her first run and 91.50 on her second.
In heat two, Olympic champion Jamie Anderson secured a fast track to finals with a 95.50 from a possible 100 points on her second run of two.
The judges rewarded her for the flow and technical merit of her run and made her the top favourite for the win in tomorrow's finals – which could end with a magic three-peat after Anderson had already prevailed in the 2013 and 2015 slopestyle event of the Audi quattro Winter Games.
Great Britain’s Katie Ormerod also made good use of the creative course, earning second place on the scoreboard to guarantee her place in tomorrow’s finals.
“There’s so many good girls and it’s a challenging course, it’s quite difficult,” said Ormerod. “I really like the course. It’s kind of nice when a World Cup is challenging because it really picks out the good riders.”
NZ’s Zoi Sadowski Synnott will also be amongst the ten female finalists after placing fifth in her heat. The Wanaka teenager enjoyed the challenge of competing against a world-class field on her home turf:
“It’s the heaviest field I’ve ever competed with,” said Sadowski Synnott. “It’s a bit nerve wracking but exciting at the same time.”
Corning and Sharpe top men’s qualifying heats
Also the men's field saw a strong and deep field of 56 riders split across two qualifier heats – and North American athletes coming out on the top spots of the respective heats.
While warm and sunny conditions had the snow softening and the course running slow, with several of the top ranked riders coming unstuck on their first of two runs, Chris Corning (USA) smashed his top scoring run right out of the gate, scoring a 90.75 on his first run.
The defending Winter Games NZ champion brought down a well executed top to bottom run which consisted of a boardslide to front board, frontside 360 melon, hardway backside 270 and a backside rodeo off the pole jam before wrapping things off with a cab 900 mute to back-to-back 1080 melons.
“It was super sugary out there, and it was good just being able to put a run down”, said Corning. “It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was good enough to get a score of a 90.00.”
In the other heat, Darcy Sharpe (CAN) took a fall on his first run but was able to make an impressive comeback, landing a very technical, near flawless run on his second go throwing down a backside 270 lipslide over the rainbow rail, a frontside alley oop, hardway 270 to 270 out, a cab 270 to 450 out before stomping a switch backside 900 tail to backside 720 mute and a frontside 1080 indy on the kicker line.
A proud Kiwi in the air: Carlos Garcia Knight © Neil Kerr / Winter Games NZ
After struggling on his first run, NZ’s Carlos Garcia Knight was also able to adapt his run to the conditions and put down the second highest scoring run in heat one. The judges rewarded the Kiwi for his technical rail tricks and all round clean run.
“I’m just happy to put down a run,” said Garcia Knight. “I stepped it down a little bit just because conditions were pretty tough today but I guess it worked in the end. I had a pretty strong top section and so that carried me through.”
The Snowboard Slopestyle World Cup finals will be held at Cardrona Alpine Resort tomorrow (Monday) with 16 men and 10 women in action.
The showdown for the first World Cup is slated to take place at 9:45 AM local time (11:45 PM CET) and will feature a two run, best one count format.