Rip Curl pro competitors watch Karinya Turnbull
Rip Curl FreeRide Pro
Thredbo turned on perfect weather and perfect snow conditions for the qualifying day of the Rip Curl FreeRide Pro on Tuesday.
Under a bluebird sky and with 15cm of dry fresh and light windblown snow, Thredbo’s Bluff area was primed, offering competitors plenty of opportunities with the natural rock jumps and wind lips complemented by a number of man-made features and kickers.
The result was some of the most spectacular freeriding seen in competition in recent years with Australia’s best skiers and snowboarders unloading a variety of tricks including corked 720s, backside 540s and huge front and backflips.
The finals of the junior ski and snowboards were decided today while the top eight open men’s and women’s qualifiers from today’s rounds will compete in the final tomorrow.
The judging criteria encouraged all mountain riding with speed and flow through the Bluff’s natural features critical elements as well as the technical difficulty and the size of the tricks. The open men’s ski and snowboard set the standard with New Zealand Olympian Mitch Brown qualifying first in the men’s snowboard ahead of local Thredbo rider Peter Long. Ben Mates, Australia’s Olympic half-pipe finalist qualified third. In the Open Ski, Mount Buller’s Watkin McLennan was the front-runner, ahead of Thredbo skier Jono Lipzker. Jindabyne skier Scott Kneller, another member of the Australian Olympic team, qualified third.
There are plenty of other big names among the open finalists including US Olympian Snowboarder Andy Finch, Australia’s world cup snowboard halfpipe rider Nate Johnstone and leading Australian freeskiers Chris Booth (Sydney, NSW) and Jordan Houghton (Jindabyne, NSW).
The top eight finalists will be joined by two Power balance wildcards, one in each category. Kieran McLaughlin (Falls Creek, VIC) in the snowboard and Kristopher Evan (East Jindabyne, NSW) the ski. Both impressed the judges with a massive trick.
The women’s division was hotly contested, the riders throwing down some huge airs and technical tricks. Local snowboarders Saph Farrell (East Jindabyne, NSW), Laura Williams (Thredbo, NSW) and Wiki Jones (Swansea Heads, NSW) are the top three qualifiers in that order. It was different in the ski with the top three places being filled by Mount Buller skiers, ’08 and ’09 Rip Curl FreeRide Pro champion Zoe Jaboor (Mt Buller, VIC) qualifying first ahead of Winter X Games gold medallist Anna Segal (Toorak, VIC) and Natalie Segal (Toorak, VIC) third. Katya Crema (Middle Park, VIC), another Buller skier and Australian Olympian is the fourth qualifier for the finals.
The juniors showed Australian skiing and snowboarding has a strong future, taking aggressive lines through the terrain and throwing down some massive moves. In the boys Henry Maxwell won the snowboard and Hamish Young the ski. Alex Fitch won the girls snowboard and Rennee Connor the ski.
The open finals are scheduled to start at 9am Wednesday morning and the winners should be decided by midday.
The Rip Curl ThrowDown competitors will be announced tomorrow, invites are limited to those snowboarders and skiers with the ability to push the boundaries on the purpose-built park.
The Rip Curl FreeRide Pro and ThrowDown is proudly presented by Power Balance and is a part of the Thredbo FreeRide Series.
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