Whangamata’s Ben Stewart cements his position

April 19th, 2009

Copper Mountain, Colorado (April 15, 2009) – Ben Stewart (Whangamata) has repeated his outstanding performance of 2008 with back-to-back titles at the 2009 USA Snowboarding Association (USASA) National Championships competition at Copper mountain, Colorado in the Open Halfpipe division. The USASA Nationals is the largest snowboard competition in the world in terms of participation and is the climax event on the US domestic season calendar.

Kiwi snowboarders were out in full force, accumulating seven top-10 placings at the event. Ben Stewart (centre) Stewart, 16, pocketed his second cheque of the week following an additional repeat victory at the Breckenridge “Spring Massive” halfpipe event last Sunday where he finished with 95 points out of a total of 100 – the highest score of the day. “I was happy with my riding and I was able to switch on during finals and put down a good scoring run. This is my favourite event of the season and I enjoyed riding with riders my own age. ” said Stewart following his victory.

“Ben has cemented his position as one of the world’s best up-and-coming halfpipe riders,” said Tom Willmott, Head Snowboard Coach of the New Zealand Winter Performance Programme. “He has capped off a season where he has met the New Zealand Olympic committee selection criteria and is on track to gain NZ an Olympic quota spot via his performance on the World Cup tour.” In the Adaptive division Snowboarder Carl Murphy, of New Plymouth, took to the podium with gold in slalom and silver in Snowboardcross. Adding to the tally, Murphy placed fourth Giant Slalom and fifth in Halfpipe. Adaptive Snowboarder, Carl Murphy “I am so stoked to come away with good results in my second major event for 2009,” said Murphy. “I have had great preparation leading up to the race with support from the NZ Winter Performance Programme coaches Tom Willmott and Mike Bell.”

Adaptive Snowboarder Carl Murphy (Centre) Snowboarders training with the Winter Performance Programme ‘Project 2014 Team’ under Coach Michael Bell also secured top results in their respective age group divisions. Mack James, of Wanaka, finished with a solid 10th overall position in 14-15 age division in Halfpipe. James, who was in the younger end of the age range in his division proved he is one of the best young male snowboarders with future potential. Wanaka teammate, Jay Walsh, who competed in the 14-15 age division secured 13th place in halfpipe and also in slopestyle. Tim Herbert, also from Wanaka, narrowly missed the podium in the 12-13 age snowboardcross division, placing fourth in the five-man final. Herbert advanced each heat playing it smart typically finishing second or third, limiting his risk of falling or being taken-out.

Adaptive snowboarder Carl Murphy is a member of the NZ Adaptive Snow Sports Team, while all other above mentioned athletes are members of the NZ Snowboard Union (NZSBU) Snowboard Squad and train with the New Zealand Winter Performance Programme under Head Coach Tom Willmott and Michael Bell. The Winter Performance Programme (WPP) athletes are selected to be developed by Academy South Island through its Winter Performance Programme, which supports elite athletes in several winter sports capable of success on the world stage. It co-ordinates and provides coaching, sports science, medical and performance support, with medals at the Winter Olympics the upcoming focus. www.asi.org.nz

The New Zealand Snowboard Union (NZSBU) and Adaptive Snow Sports New Zealand are members of Snow Sport New Zealand. Snow Sports New Zealand is the official governing body and National Sports Organisation representing all snow sports in New Zealand. www.snowsports.co.nz