Luca Harrington (19, Wānaka) has taken the win at the heavily stacked international FIS Australia New Zealand Cup Slopestyle competition, held at Cardrona Alpine Resort as part of the 2023 Cardrona NZ Freestyle Nationals.
The four day event was up against challenging weather conditions, as spring brought seasonal high winds to the Southern Lakes Region. What was originally scheduled to be a slopestyle qualification day and a slopestyle final day, ended up being changed to two days of slopestyle qualification.
After his win Harrington explained, “It’s awesome, it’s always nice to take the win on home snow. It was great to be able to hold it down and hopefully provide some inspiration for the younger kiwi athletes and prove to them that you can make it in this sport growing up in Wānaka.”
Harrington laced together a technical combination on the top two rails, before heading into the four jumps, throwing down four huge tricks in four different directions of rotation.
“It was definitely difficult having that fourth jump, it meant I had to do a big trick in that fourth direction, so that was a huge challenge. On the world cup circuit, we do sometimes find ourselves with a fourth jump, it can be a shock, so it was great to have the training opportunity here.” – Harrington.
Harrington was joined on the freeski podium by Lucas Ball of Canada in second place and Martyn Kingston of the USA in third. Fellow kiwi Fergus McArthur (17 Auckland) finished just 0.33 points off the podium in fourth place.
The snowboard podium was headed up by current Slopestyle and Big Air Junior World Champion Taiga Hasegawa of Japan, who claimed the win by a massive 8 points. He was joined on the podium by teammate Kira Kimura in second place, with Nicolas Huber of Switzerland rounding out the podium in third.
Kiwi Dane Menzies (18, Wānaka) finished in fourth place, just two points behind the world class podium.
Although the weather meant the finals were unable to be held, the FIS rules state that a result can be taken from qualification, as long as each phase of competition is completed. As the weather forecast was rough coming into this event, coaches were briefed that this was a possible situation and we saw athletes throwing down in the qualification rounds.
Had a finals been held we would have seen four kiwi freeski men qualified through to the 12 man final and four kiwi snowboard men qualified through to the snowboard final, showing how strong the up-and-coming kiwi snow sports talent pool is.
The 2023 Cardrona NZ Freestyle Nationals continues tomorrow, where the U8 – U18 freeski and snowboard age divisions will compete in three events, over three days, to crown NZ national age division titles and overall NZ champions.
5 months ago