Judge hails Big Air comp as ‘higher level than X Games’
Twin snowboard and freeski Big Air competitions provided huge thrills in the final event of Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015, with Head Judge Lao Chazelas hailing the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) Freeski Platinum-sanctioned contest as being of world-beating quality.
“The competition was insane,” he said. “It’s the highest level we judge in the whole world. I think this competition was a higher level than the X Games so it was super-hard to judge.”
Boarders and freeskiers faced jumps spanning up to 100 feet as they performed tricks high above the base building at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka.
In the Winter Games NZ AFP Freeski Big Air finals the men’s event saw 12 of the world’s top athletes take to the sky to showcase their biggest tricks.
In a very tight contest, consistency paid off for Switzerland’s Andri Ragettli who took the gold medal after qualifying in tenth place earlier in the week.
His two best tricks — a switch left double misty 12 tail grab and a left triple cork 1440 high mute — earned him an unbeatable 180.25 points.
“I was tense at the qualis. It was not really good,” he said, but in the end everything worked out the way he hoped. “It was perfect. I stomped three of three runs and I’m just happy that I won at the end.”
Not far behind, Norway’s Johan Berg gained the highest scoring run with 95.50 but he failed to maintain the standard for his next two, slipping to second with a total of 177.00. He ended the day happy that he had landed a new trick for the first time.
As testament to the closeness of the finalists, three riders tied for third with 171.00 points: Luca Schuler and Jonas Hunziker of Switzerland, and Antoine Adelisse of France.
“Every rider is riding very well,” said Chazelas. “We saw a bunch of different tricks. Everything was perfectly stomped so [it was] really hard to separate them. All those riders know exactly how to perfectly stomp those tricks. It was a great show, a good variety of tricks for the whole competition. Perfect!”
In the women’s freeski event, three entrants vied for position. After a bad start, Germany’s Lisa Zimmermann gathered her composure and turned in two sweet jumps — a left 5 Japan grab and a switch left 5 safety grab — for a total of 176.75 and the gold medal.
“I crashed on my first run and then I had to stomp the next two runs and I’m pretty happy that I landed them,” she said. “I think it was not my best but I’m super happy that I just landed on my feet!”
Second place went to Italy’s Silvia Bertagna, jumping consistently for a total of 153.50, with Dominique Chaco of Chile taking third with 133.75.
In the Winter Games NZ World Snowboard Tour (WST) Big Air finals, both men’s and women’s events were dominated by Japanese riders. With only three starters in both categories, the only results in question were the podium positions.
Keita Inamura took gold for the men with a consistent performance, landing two huge jumps for a total of 160.66 points, his top trick being a switch backside 12 backside 10.
Yuki Kadono landed a new trick, a frontside triple mute 14, for a total of 157.33 for second, and two messy landings restricted Tomoki Wakita to 113.66 and third position.
In the women’s event, Miyabi Onitsuka stayed composed to tot up 152.99 points for the gold, including a back 7 front 3, while Natsuki Sato played things safe for her last run, taking silver with 131.99. Asami Hirono didn’t nail her landings, but took the bronze with 104.33 points.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 concluded today with the closing ceremony at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka. The two downtown Games Villages in Queenstown and Wanaka are open till late with live music and aprés ski hospitality. The free JUCY Meltdown Concert takes place in Wanaka featuring Kora supported by Arma Del Amor.