Snow Sports New Zealand announced today that the International Ski Federation (FIS) has awarded the 2010 Snowboard and Freestyle Junior World Championships to New Zealand.
The event, spanning as many as 14 days in late August and early September, marks the first time a FIS World Championship will be staged in New Zealand, and also marks the first time that snowboarding and freestyle skiing will share the same stage in a World Championship.
"It’s a great honour to be chosen as the host for this prestigious event", said Ross Palmer, CEO of Snow Sports New Zealand, the national governing body for snow sports. "It’s a clear signal from the international sporting community that there is a high level of confidence in our ability to host major international winter sporting events".
Wednesday’s announcement by Snow Sports New Zealand comes on the heels of the recently concluded and highly successful 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, the largest snow sports event ever held in the Southern hemisphere. "Hosting the FIS Junior World Championships next season will only add to the legacy that the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games helped establish", said Palmer. "The staff and volunteers of the Winter Games Trust who helped make that event so successful have laid the foundation for us to stage a spectacular Junior World Championships".
Event venues have yet to be determined, but Palmer said he expects that there will be significant interest from ski and snowboard resorts in both Wanaka and Queenstown, where FIS have indicated they would like to see the event staged. "As the current season winds down, we’ll have formal discussions with the ski area operators to gauge their interest in being a part of this event, and to ensure that we are able to fit comfortably into their schedules during a busy time of the season", said Palmer.
A full slate of snowboard disciplines will be showcased during the event for boys and girls ages 20-under, including halfpipe, snowboard-cross, parallel giant slalom, parallel slalom, big air and slopestyle. The inclusion of slopestyle in the snowboarding competition is one of the first steps in making it a full-fledged World Championship discipline at the 2011 World Championships in La Molina, Spain. New Zealand is one of at least three countries that have submitted proposals to FIS supporting slopestyle’s inclusion as a World Championship discipline. Snowboard slopestyle is confirmed for inclusion in the first winter Youth Olympics, scheduled for 2012 in Innsbruck. "It’s one of the more exciting and dynamic disciplines in snowboarding, and New Zealand has a good group of young riders who excel in slopestyle", said Palmer. It’s anticipated that halfpipe and skier-cross will comprise the freestyle disciplines organised for the 2010 FIS Junior World Championships, with slopestyle and big air also possibilities, pending approval from FIS.
Typically, FIS World Championships are staged during the Northern Hemisphere winter, but with New Zealand’s growing reputation as world-class snow sports destination, organisers are confident they’ll be able to attract full fields for the event.
A finalised schedule is expected to be announced in October, shortly after the annual fall FIS meetings in Zurich later this month, and at the conclusion of discussions with Otago-area ski and snowboard resorts.