Cardrona Alpine Resort, home to the New Zealand Park and Pipe Team, will be hosting a not-to-be-missed spectacle this spring, with the Cardrona Games taking place at the resort from 12-16 September.
A strong international field will compete in two freeski and snowboard slopestyle competitions and a freeski and snowboard halfpipe competition, all of which are jointly sanctioned as FIS (International Ski Federation) Continental Cups, AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals) Silver level and World Snowboard Tour National level events.
In the lead-up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Cardrona Games will provide an opportunity to earn early season FIS points and many Olympic hopefuls from a variety of nations will be competing.
The UK’s James Woods, who finished fifth in freeski slopestyle at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, will be a hot favourite for a podium spot in the men’s freeski slopestyle. He will be up against a strong Kiwi contingent including double Youth Olympic Games medallist Finn Bilous (Wanaka), who is excited about the chance to compete on his home mountain.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best skiers on the mountain I learnt to ski at,” he says. “The facilities at Cardrona are unreal, so I think it’s going to be a great show.”
Finn will be joined by his Youth Olympic Games team mates freeskier Jackson Wells (Wanaka), and snowboarder Tiarn Collins (Queenstown). Freeskiing brothers Nico and Miguel Porteous (Christchurch) will be looking forward to showcasing a full bag of tricks after a successful season spent training at Cardrona. Last month Nico became the youngest skier in the world to land a triple cork 1440.
The women’s ski events will also see a strong challenge from one of the youngest competitors with 14-year-old Estonian Kelly Sildaru a confirmed starter. The young athlete already has Dew Tour and X Games gold medals to her name and is no stranger to Cardrona’s 22ft Olympic Superpipe or the Big Bucks Park, the venue for the slopestyle events. In 2014 she won the women’s slopestyle and finished second in halfpipe at The North Face Freeski Open of NZ, also hosted at Cardrona.
NZ Olympian Anna Willcox (Auckland) will be gunning for a podium spot as will Adie Lawrence (Queenstown), Margaux Hackett (Queenstown) and Gia Hughes (Auckland). With top 10 results at World Cup competitions, Japanese pipe skiers Yurie Watanabe and Saori Suzuki are also on the who-to-watch list.
Joining Tiarn Collins in the snowboard events will be NZ’s Carlos Garcia Knight (Christchurch) who won silver in slopestyle at the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships and finished fourth in the 2016 Burton US Open and fourth at the 2015 Audi quattro Winter Games NZ against stacked international fields.
Korea and China will be well represented across the board with male and female athletes competing in freeski and snowboard while the USA will be looking for top results in men’s freeski halfpipe and slopestyle with Eddie Gildea, Ryan Stevenson and Peter Raich all names to watch. Identical twins Kiernan and Deven Fagan, competing in their first year of FIS competition, could also provide some exciting action if their dominant performances at the 2016 USASA Nationals is anything to go by.
The programme for the Cardrona Games is as follows:
On event days the bottom of the Wells Platter, within walking distance of the base building, is a great place to watch the halfpipe action. Skiing and snowboarding guests will have a fantastic view of the slopestyle course from Racecourse trail.
As well as valuable FIS, AFP and WST points, the athletes are competing for a share of a US$20,000 cash purse.
The Cardrona Games are supported by Cardrona Alpine Resort, Otago Community Trust, Lion Foundation, Snow Sports NZ, Kids Inc, Site Trampoline, Mons Royale and GoPro (Cardrona). For more announcements about confirmed athletes and event streaming, keep an eye on Cardrona’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.