Superstar free skiers and snowboarders will entertain a crowd of up to 5000 in downtown Queenstown this weekend.
Fingers crossed: Jossi Wells
The Parklife Invitational rail jam has moved from Earnslaw Park to a new home at Queenstown’s Recreation Ground.
The bigger venue means 3000 more snow sports enthusiasts can watch slick tricks by expert skiers and riders – and also this year for the first time, by motocross bikers.
The popular annual event, which began a decade ago, sees 32 cubic metres of snow brought down from the Remarkables, along with two rails on a steps platform.
And the world-renowned stars lining up for the invitational is impressive – with the world’s top free skier Gus Kenworthy and Wanaka’s international star skier Jossi Wells.
Big air with big bikes
Motocross rider Nick Franklin will add adrenalin-fuelled big air tricks to Queenstown’s Parklife Invitational.
The Kiwi joins other freestyle motocross (FMX) riders to demonstrate their skills by jumping 100kg dirt bikes over the rails set-up at Queenstown Recreation Ground.
The North Island pro is one of the world’s best and a three-time NZ X Air champion.
Franklin says: “I’m really excited. I ride events all around the world but a world-class event on home soil is as good as it gets.
“Getting to watch some of the best Kiwi skiers and boarders to me is the cherry on top.”
Franklin will be joined by Aussies Brenton Drager and Matt Lewis for the death-defying demo, likely to include backflips and tail whips.
NZSki marketing manager Craig Douglas says: “FMX is in that freestyle genre and adrenalin-packed entertainment. We think it matches well with what we’re doing on the snow and adds another dimension for the crowd.
“We certainly want to grow the appeal of the event, but not take it too far away from the core of the rail jam. That’s the competition, whereas the FMX is a demonstration.”
Wells, 22, says: “Hopefully I can compete because I always love the event – it’s super fun.
“I’m planning on it but my body is not really co-operating with me right now, my knees are pretty sore.
“I might have to pull out if they’re not up to scratch. I’m competing in the NZ Open in Wanaka, so it just depends on how my body is.”
Wells has become a household name since wowing judges at the New Zealand Rip Curl Heli Challenge, aged nine.
In 2010, he was judged the best free skier in the world after winning the Association of Freeskiing Professionals overall title, along with the half-pipe. He has also been a World Superpipe Champion and X Games slopestyle silver medallist during his stellar career.
And his three brothers, X Games finalist Byron, 20, and teenagers Beau and Jackson, are no slouches either.
“My brothers are competing as well, it is all the family, so should be cool,” Jossi says.
“It’s rad competing at home. I get to sleep in my own bed and have my mum come and watch me, so it’s pretty cool.
“There’s nothing really I’m working on in terms of tricks, I just try to ski each day and take it as it comes.”
American Kenworthy has won the men’s ski section the past two years. Nick Brown, last year’s winner of the snowboard section, will also be back to defend his title – along with a host of Kiwi and international snowboarding
Music, DJs, food, alcohol and retail stores will entertain the crowd.
All you need to know
What: Parklife Invitational rail jam
Where: Queenstown Rec Ground
When: Saturday, August 25, gates open 4.30pm
Event runs: 5.30-9.30pm. (Rider qualifiers 6pm, finals 7.30pm, prize giving 9pm; freestyle motocross demos 5.30pm, 7pm and 8.40pm)
Tickets: $5 (from the Queenstown Snow Centre, Duke Street), or pay cash at the gate