Junior Athletes Shine at Cardrona NZ Freestyle Nationals Age Division Events

The Cardrona NZ Freestyle Nationals continued today, with the first day of age division competition going down at Cardrona Alpine Resort. With points towards the 2023 National Titles on the line, this was an important day of competition for the young athletes.

The Cardrona NZ Freestyle Nationals are an annual event held at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Although it is competitive, the focus of the event is to encourage participation from all age groups, and to bring competitors from around the country together to have fun competing.

After a day of wild weather resulted in a postponement yesterday, the excitement from the young athletes at this morning’s briefing was tangible. The day dawned clear and cold, quickly warming up with the snow softening nicely.

The U8 and U10 snowboarders were the first to start their competition today, with snowboards youngest athletes dropping into the Little Bucks terrain park, where they hit three jumps and then two boxes to complete each of two slopestyle runs.

Despite their age, the level of riding was impressive, with the girls showing style and control over the jumps, locking in grabs. The boys pulled all their tricks out the bag, with 180s and 360s on the jumps, and a high-speed tail tap over the flat box.

Eneko Mazet-Brown (9 years old, Raglan) competed in the U10 boys division. He explained; “On my second run I got a front 360 around but I just put my hands down a little bit. It’s fun to compete with people I know and the most fun part of today was throwing snowballs and snowboarding.”

The snowboard slopestyle action continued with the U12 – U18 athletes competing in Antlers Alley, Cardrona’s medium sized terrain park.

The course consisted of three medium-sized jumps, into two reasonably technical rails, with the athletes being judged for their progression, amplitude, variation, execution and difficulty. The competition was fierce, especially in our biggest division of the day, the U14 Boys.

The judges had their work cut out for them across all age divisions, as they athletes gave it their all and threw down some impressive tricks considering their age.

Austin de Leeuw (13 years old, Hamilton) competed in the heavily contested U14 boys division. De Leeuw said; “The level of competition is crazy, there is some heat coming down the course, all the boys are throwing down and it’s going to be sick to see who wins. The vibe is sick, we are all having fun and hyping each other up.”

While the snowboarders were oozing style on the slopestyle courses, the skiers were flying down the cross course.

With the younger skiers running in the morning, followed by the older skiers in the afternoon to preserve the course, each skier took a solo timed run to seed the categories. Once they were seeded the fun really began, with the athletes racing side by side in knock out format down the course.

As expected, there were plenty of thrills and spills as the athletes fought it out. Despite how competitive the athletes were on the course, there were always plenty of hugs and high-fives being shared between competitors once they crossed the finish line.

Ella Willmott (11 years old, Wānaka), who competed in the U12 ski girls division, said; “It was very fun, the course was really good. I have competed in Freestyle Nationals since I was five years old, it’s really exciting and thrilling to compete here, it doesn’t matter what place you come, it’s about having fun.”

Tomorrow the schedule will be flipped, with the snowboarders taking on the Gravity Cross course and the freeskiers throwing down on the two slopestyle courses.

Junior Athletes Shine at Cardrona NZ Freestyle Nationals Age Division Events

10 months ago