Over 300 of the world’s elite junior snow sports athletes will arrive in Lake Wanaka this week to compete in the inaugural FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships which runs from 19-31 August. The event has attracted a high calibre field that includes many ranked in the top 20 in the world, despite their young age. Heading the New Zealand team is current world number one, freeskier Jossi Wells of Wanaka. He is joined by Olympic snowboarder, Rebecca Sinclair and 36 other young New Zealand hopefuls keen to earn valuable experience against an international field on their home turf. Competition will be tough with athletes such as Fanny Smith of Switzerland who is ranked #5 in the world for ski cross and USA’s Hannah Haupt, also fifth in the world but for freeski halfpipe, confirmed.
The USA has sent a 40-strong team of athletes plus support staff while 33 Canadian athletes have also made the long journey to the southern snow. Other countries represented are: Sweden (4), Switzerland (23), Norway (15), Chile (1), Poland (3), Bulgaria (2), Netherlands (7), Czech Republic (11), Germany (11), Philippines (1), Japan (22), Belgium (6), Andorra (1), Russia (23), Austria (10), Great Britain (4), Slovakia (12), Australia (26), Ukraine (3), Greece (2), Italy (6), Korea (16), Finland (7), Spain (3).
A Parade of Nations through Wanaka town centre will launch the championships at 5.00pm on Friday 20 August, followed by a powhiri and official welcome by Dean Gosper of the Federation International de Ski (FIS) as well as Championships Patron Juliane Bray.
All the on-snow action in the 2010 FIS Freestyle and Snowboard Junior World Championships will take place from 21 to 31 August at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Snow Park NZ, Lake Wanaka featuring the following nine disciplines – Snowboard Slopestyle, snowboard Cross, Snowboard Halfpipe, Snowboard Parallel Slalom and Giant Slalom, Snowboard Big Air, Freeski Slopestyle, Ski Cross and Freeski Halfpipe.
In september 2009 the International Ski Federation (FIS) has awarded the 2010 Snowboard and Freestyle Junior World Championships to New Zealand. The event 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.
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.