It feels like we haven’t even had a chance to wax our bases since the last Winter Olympics in Russia; now it’s South Korea’s turn. It’s been years of preparation for a select few that call the bottom of the world home. Cardrona continues to play a pivotal role for Kiwis looking to succeed at the largest winter event known to man.
The road to PyeongChang has been different for all Cardrona’s Team Riders, however one thing remains constant – hard work. First lift starts at 8.30am right? Not for the pipe athletes. They’ve probably done 20 runs through the halfpipe by the time you’ve checked the morning snow report. Have a crack at some of the core strength exercises the slopestyle riders been doing after a long day of hitting jumps. You’ll soon discover that this new breed of freestyle athlete must be the ‘full package’ to get a ticket to South Korea next February; dedicated, strong, focused & of course, ballsy.
The journey to PyeongChang for Cardrona’s athletes has had its ups & downs. While we acknowledge the ‘downs’ & sincerely hope those who’ve been injured recover swiftly, there have been a lot of ‘ups’ to get excited about…
Remember how huge Jossi Wells winning NZ’s first Winter X Games GOLD medal last year was? While X Games doesn’t necessarily mean anything for Olympic qualification, if you can win an X Games medal, you definitely have the goods to win an Olympic one. Christy Prior has also taken home X Games medals since her Olympic debut in Sochi - a silver & bronze. The younger Team Riders have taken notice & are following in rapid succession.
Miguel Porteous, at just 17, won a silver medal on debut in a stacked field of halfpipe superstars at X Games Aspen this year. Jackson ‘Wacko’ Wells entered his first X Games event (Big Air) in March, qualified first then took home the bronze medal… insane results from the young guns.
Cardrona’s athletes have been on a tear in the Northern Hemisphere Olympic qualification season. For the snowboarders, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott has definitely made her presence known through the top female ranks, grabbing a 1st (Slopestyle) & 3rd (Big Air) at World Cup events & placing 2nd (Slopestyle) at the World Champs this year. Tiarn Collins & Carlos Garcia-Knight have been racking up impressive performances against snowboarding’s elite & aren’t slowing down.
The freeskiers are busy hunting Olympic qualification with Byron Wells, Janina Kuzma, Finn Bilous & Nico Porteous making finals of key events to keep the dream alive. Beau-James Wells is back from injury this year & is bound to land some hammers.
The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ at Cardrona is a key stop on the road to PyeongChang. Our freestyle athletes will be on home turf, taking on the world in their bid to compete on winter’s biggest stage… you won’t want to miss it.
Words by Matt McIvor
Want more? Read our Heart of Gold Zine here.