A selection of the world’s best Slopestyle and Halfpipe competitors are ramping up for the park events of the Volkl NZ Freeski Open 2009, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Twenty of the world’s best International invited freeskiers will set the benchmark giving the 140 amateur and professional athletes the chance to prove their worth on the world stage. Entrants will fight through qualifiers for a spot in the finals and a share of the $35,000 prize pool.
Wanaka’s Jossi Wells, who is regarded as one of the world’s very best freeskiers leads the Kiwi’s, while international invited riders including Russ Henshaw, of Australia, Mike Riddle, of Canada, Tom Wallish, of USA, Henrick Harlaut, of Sweden and Xavier Bertoni, of France are amongst some of the top riders up to give Wells some strong competition.
Meanwhile, The Big Mountain phase of The Volkl NZ Freeski Open today concluded with top finishers at The North Face Big Mountain Finals taken by helicopter to Wanaka Backcountry for The North Face Sessions, a heli-accessed expression session presented by Southern Lakes Heli-ski.
Four Kiwi freeriders including Sam Smoothy, Tom Dunbar and Janina Kuzma were joined by internationals Jérémie Heitz, of Switzerland and Rebecka Eriksson, of Sweden, and flown to exclusive big mountain terrain accessed only by Southern Lakes Heli-Ski.
The challenge for the freeriders was to find skiable lines in a non-competitive environment. A welcomed change after the pressure of The North Face Big Mountain Finals a few days earlier.
“The concept of the heli-accessed expression session was to showcase the winners of the North Face Big Mountain doing what they do best. Throwing down their favourite tricks, in the backcountry, without the pressure they get in competition,” said Stephen Winnacott, Marketing Manager of The North Face. “We’re also capturing the day on film and will present it to the public at Wanaka’s Cinema Paradiso as part of the closing party for the entire event.”
The crew were accompanied by two photographers, a film crew and three qualified and experienced heli-ski guides to help ensure safety at all times.
The action will be filmed and featured during a public screening of the Volkl NZ Freeski Open in Wanaka this Thursday.
Establishing itself as the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere and attracting athletes from across the globe, the Volkl NZ Freeski Open has now been officially recognised on the international freeski World Tour alongside the world’s biggest freeski events.
The North Face Big Mountain is the first-ever Southern Hemisphere Freeride World Qualifier Event, while the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) is including the Slopestyle and Halfpipe as an AFP points event.
The Volkl NZ Freeski Open is crucial to the development of freeskiing in NZ. Being held on our home soil gives both developing and elite athletes the opportunity to compete at the highest level and get a taste of what it’s like big time! Our New Zealand freeskiers will be competing head to head with the top international skiers at this event.
The Volkl NZ Freeski Open is a collaborative effort between Snowsports New Zealand (SSNZ) and the Freeski Association New Zealand (FSANZ), organisations that share the objective of promoting awareness and participation of snow sports and freeskiing in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere.
Volkl NZ Freeski Open Schedule
Wednesday 12th August – The North Face Big Mountain Qualifiers – The Remarkables
Friday 14th August – The North Face Big Mountain Finals – Now at THE REMARKABLES
Tuesday 18th August – Slopestyle – Cardrona
Wednesday 19th August -Halfpipe – Cardrona
Sat 15th – 18th August (Weather bracket) – The North face Sessions – Southern Lakes Heli-Ski
Thursday 20th August – Public Screening of Volkl NZ Freeski Open featuring highlights of The North Face Sessions & TGR/The North Face Film – $15 entry Cinema Paradiso
About the Freeride World Tour Qualifier (Big Mountain)
Since 2008, the Freeride World Tour has made sports history bringing together top international freeride skiers and snowboarders, men and women, competing at prestigious resorts around the world, battling for the World Champion title. The Freeride World Tour (FWT) is welcoming The New Zealand Freeride Series 2009 as a Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) event for the 2009-2010 season. The New Zealand Freeride Series is comprised of three events, The North Face Big Mountain at the Volkl New Zealand Freeski Open at The Remarkables and Treble Cone (11-16 August), the K2 Big Mountain Chill Series at Craigieburn and Mt Olympus (26-30 August), and the Export Gold Xtreme at Whakapapa, Mt Ruapehu (8-13 September). As a premier event, the Volkl New Zealand Freeski Open offers double the points in the overall Series result. freerideworldtour.com
About the Association of Freeski Professionals World Tour (Slopestyle and Halfpipe)
Event rankings are based upon course construction, prize money, media exposure and quality of competitor field and determined by the Executive Committee of the AFP. Final points for each event are determined after the start list is confirmed and the strength field based on AFP standings is weighted into consideration. The Best four results are used for halfpipe and the best three results for Slopestyle and Big Air to determine the World Champions. afpworldtour.com
Principal Sponsor & Official Ski Higher, faster, further – that motto may work for the Olympics, but not for Völkl. There’s more to it than that when it comes to developing new ski models: more precise, agile, dynamic, powerful, cushioning, individual, comfortable, intense, flexible, variable, safe, carving. In other words: our goal is to make skiing a little bit better each year. We use technical innovation to drive forward the development of skiing. Why are we doing this? It’s quite simple: We don’t view the limits of physics as the summit, but rather as just another step on our path. We use know-how, enthusiasm and German engineering to work constantly on improvements. Even if they appear quite miniscule at first – over 85 years of experience have taught us that big successes often depend on the small details. voelkl.com
About The North Face
Big Mountain Presenting Sponsor & Official Outerware The North Face offers the most technically innovative products in the market to accomplished snowsport athletes, climbers, mountaineers, endurance athletes, and explorers. The company’s products are sold in specialty snowsport, backpacking, running, and mountaineering retailers, premium-sporting goods retailers and major outdoor specialty retail chains. thenorthface.com
About Southern Lakes Heli-Ski
Presenting Sponsor for The North Face Sessions Southern Lakes Heli-Ski has over 20 years experience in the industry. We operate on several mountain ranges, with the most exclusive access to over 5,000 square kilometres of powder, we can access the most terrain of any company in the Southern Lakes region. Out here it’s just you and the elements, so you need to be in good hands. With a ratio of one guide per five guests, you won’t feel overcrowded, and your group will be organised according to ability, ensuring you feel comfortable yet challenged enough to get the most from your day. We have flexibility and diversity of options when deciding upon the best possible location for you to get the most out of your heliskiing experience.