The Association of Freeski Professionals (AFP) has awarded platinum level sanctioning to the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ for both the halfpipe and slopestyle FIS Freestyle Ski World Cups it is hosting next month at Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Platinum is the AFP’s highest sanctioning level and puts the Winter Games NZ on the same ranking as the world’s premier freeski events such as Winter X Games and the WSI/AFP World Championship. Only seven out of 56 events on last season’s AFP World Tour were given platinum level sanctioning, representing only those that attracted the best athletes with the best courses and strongest judging panels.
Athletes confirmed for the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ include local brothers Jossi, Byron and Beau-James Wells, American Gus Kenworthy who pipped Jossi Wells to the AFP men’s overall world title this season, compatriot and previous Winter Games NZ gold medallist, Bobby Brown, overall third-ranked freeskier Henrik Harlaut from Sweden, Australia’s Russ Henshaw, currently ranked second in slopestyle and winner of the 2012 North Face New Zealand Freeski Open, third-ranked slopestyler James ‘Woodsy’ Woods from Great Britain, and Canadians Mike Riddle and Justin Dorey who respectively won the AFP World Championships in 2012 and 2011.
In the women’s comp, a ‘world’s best’ start list will be headed by Norwegian star, Tiril SjÃ¥stad Christiansen who took out the overall AFP World Tour this season. She’ll take on USA’s Maddie Bowman, first in this season’s AFP Halfpipe World Ranking, and Devin Logan who won all three freeski gold medals at Winter Games NZ 2011.
Eric Zerrenner, Executive Director of the AFP said: “Winter Games NZ has a history of hosting a great event – well organised, well run, and well attended by top AFP athletes. After reviewing the Games’ sanctioning application, coupled with the successful history and positive athlete feedback of this event, it was clear to us that this is a Platinum Level AFP sanctioned event. It’s exciting to kick off the Olympic season with such a high-calibre competition.”
Arthur Klap, Chief Executive of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ said it represented real progress in the development of the Games following Gold Level AFP Sanctioning for its FIS Freestyle Ski World Cups in 2011 and 2012.
“It’s a remarkable achievement to be ranked alongside the Winter X Games and other elite events by the AFP. It reinforces our status as one of the world’s top five winter sports events and means our two freeski events will be extremely valuable points-scoring opportunities for all competitors heading down under.”