Snow Park is back to its former glory and then some. The new 22-foot halfpipe opened today along with the airbag and new jump line. Photo: Woody Sedgman
Transfer Snowboard Magazine | Russell Holt
We are sitting here with Robbie Walker – one of Australia’s best-known snowboard slopestyle riders looking out over Snow Park’s perfectly manicured terrain park as practice finishes up. “Snow Park is looking the best its been in years”, Robbie mentions, but unfortunately he’s injured with a knee strain (it looks like its hurting more mentally than physically), but that fact doesn’t take too much away of the view from the window of the luxury apartments that are perched above the park.
The park is looking insane – they’ve just opened their new 22-foot pipe today, manicured to perfection by new park builder John Melville, the quarterpipe is back, there’s a incredible 4 jump line down the side of the lift ready for the Billabong slopestyle and the jib run is an intense run of over 40 jibs and jumps of all sizes for all riding ability.
By the time the sun is setting over a perfect day at ‘The Park’ and the Billabong team are shredding a private jump session on the new 4th jump in the jump-line in the sunset. “How’s this Serenity maaaate?” I quip Robbie.
It’s the end of the first day of practice for the Billabong Slope-style, a TTR Snowboard World Tour 4-Star event, and some of the best riders in the world were out in force today taking advantage of the beautiful conditions and perfect course.
“I saw heaps of kids riding really good today, I saw lots of double corks, but I don’t speak Norwegian so I don’t know who they are…” Australia’s Clint Allan laughed about after practice. The level of riding for the event has definitely stepped up again this year and you would think that this could be due to slopestyle’s recent inclusion in the 2014 Winter Olympics as a new sport.
The new 4th jump in the jump line has been coined the channel nipple. It sends riders high for decent hang-time, perfect for stylin tricks and shootin photos in the sunset.
But as Jenny Jones, UK’s top slopestyle female rider and one of the favourites this weekend explained, it’s quite the contrary, “Everyone is in a really mellow mood, the fact that this is the first Slopestyle event for the women after it was announced to be in the Olympics, hasn’t really changed anything with the us, the mood on the chair and on the course is still chilled out and everyone is just having fun.”
This is the second stop on the 2011/12 TTR World Tour and the start of valuable points gaining in the run in to the Northern Hemisphere Winter. Many young bucks show up to cut their stripes, while seasoned Pros like current world champion, Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson make the trek down under to get a good start on the tour.
“The set up here at Snow Park is amazing I haven’t seen it this great in a while, the jib line is fun and the Billabong Slopestyle course is looking awesome, we have a triple line and a really unique feature at the bottom.” Jamie said.
New Zealand local rider Roland Morley-Brown also agreed that the course is the best it’s been in recent memory, “The Channel-gap Nipple jump at the bottom of the jump looks really different and unique. You can hip it, but you could also hit it straight over. The top of course rail section is really tech especially the double kink round rail bar that rolls straight into the up bar pole jam.”
Tomorrow, Friday is qualifying for the finals scheduled for Saturday, although with the weather looking grim for sometime Saturday we might find the event running over into Sunday – although this is New Zealand and predicting what’s going to happen next is part of the appeal – you never do really know.
We’ll be running full coverage of the 2011 Billabong slope-style right here, so stay tuned each afternoon with more photos and videos coming.