Spy Optics FIS NZL Freestyle Open wraps up at Cardrona

17 August 2018 00:42
Cool Wakushima (NZL) in action at Cardrona
Cool Wakushima (NZL) in action at Cardrona -
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Cardrona (NZL) - The Spy Optics FIS NZ Freestyle Open got underway at Cardrona Alpine Resort today with the snowboard and freeski slopestyle qualifiers. With snow starting to fall heavily and visibility deteriorating, only the women’s field was able to complete the scheduled two runs.

The event serves as a good warm up opportunity ahead of next month’s Audi quattro Winter Games NZ which will host the FIS Junior Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships. For the snowboard events the NZ Freestyle Open is sanctioned by the World Rookie Tour as well as the International Ski Federation (FIS). The World Rookie Tour (WRT) is the largest youth snowboard series in the world with the world’s best U18 snowboarders competing for qualifying spots in the legendary 2019 World Rookie Tour Final in Austria.

Rina Yoshika (JPN), the stand out performer in qualifying, won the women’s snowboard final, impressing the judging panel with stylish rail slides before spinning and grabbing on all of the jumps. Maria Hidalgo (ESP) finished in second with NZ rider Cool Wakushima (Queenstown) taking a third-place finish. 

As the top scoring U18 snowboarder Wakushimal also claimed the World Rookie Tour title. The World Rookie Tour (WRT) is the largest youth snowboard series in the world with the world’s best U18 snowboarders competing for qualifying spots in the legendary 2019 World Rookie Tour Final in Austria.

“I wanted to spin all three of the jumps, that was my goal and I stomped it,” said Wakushima. “It’s my first time competing at this level event, I was a little bit nervous but excited at the same time. I can’t wait to go over to Austria (for the World Rookie Tour Finals).”

The men’s snowboard podium was almost a repeat of the morning’s heat two qualifying round with just a slight change to the order. Ryo Aizawa claimed the win with his unique and creative rail tricks and a huge backside 1260 on the last jump.

“It was so fun and I’m happy to win,” said Aizawa.

Minsik Lee finished in second place with Yuto Yamada third. Yamada also claimed the men’s World Rookie Tour title.

NZ rider Rakai Tait put down a solid competition run but lost points for a slight hand drag on his back dub 10 and finished in fifth.

Korea took a clean sweep of the men’s and women’s snowboard podiums. Kwang Ki Lee was the clear winner in the men’s field and the only rider to stomp a clean second run in heavy snowfall.

The judges took their hats off to Lee who seemed to have no concerns about the weather conditions and put down two huge spins (900s) and made clean landings on every trick.

Leejun Kweon in second and Joon-Sik Lee in third also had some big tricks but lacked the clean execution needed for first place. As the top placed U18 rider Joon-Sik Lee also claimed the win in the World Rookie Tour division.

13-year-old Zephyr Lovelock was the best of the NZL male snowboarders, finishing in fifth place.

Minju Lee was delighted by her win in women’s snowboard, albeit only against one other competitor; “It was really fun,” said Lee.

Second place women’s snowboard was awarded to Na-yoon Lee who, as the top placed U18 female, also topped the World Rookie Tour division.

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