Boarder ace rides for Olys

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On track: Tiarn Collins rides to sixth in last month's snowboard slopestyle World Cup in Austria PICTURE: MIHA MATAVZ

Queenstown’s teenage snowboard sensation Tiarn Collins is knocking on the door of next year’s Winter Olympics.

The 17-year-old’s made a stunning start to the northern hemisphere winter, competing in the Slopestyle World Cup and big air competitions.

He’s placed an impressive sixth in Austria, 12th in Italy and 20th in Switzerland, in FIS world cup slopestyle.

And he’s landed two 17ths and a 31st in the big air, in Russia, the United States and South Korea.

Snow Sports NZ coach Sean Thompson says Collins is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on tour.

“His dedication to training both on-snow and off is second-to-none.

“The sport is super-competitive at the moment and just to get a result in the top 20 right now is a feat on its own.”

Collins has already done enough to satisfy Snow Sports NZ Winter Olympic nomination criteria in both disciplines for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

He also has to maintain his top-40 spot to gain New Zealand an Olympic quota spot – he’s currently 11th.

And then it will be up to the NZ selectors.

They will run the rule over the Olympic hopefuls in November.

Thompson says early qualification will allow him to balance competing and training, helping him work towards one of those coveted podium spots.

“So far, Tiarn is tracking well towards achieving this.”

He’s one of NZ’s top prospects for the Olympics in snowboarding and Thompson hopes his form will continue in the remaining FIS events.

They include the world champs in March and the NZ Winter Games in September.

For sixth in Kreischberg, Austria, Collins stomped his first run with technical rail line and super smooth backside double cork 1260 melon for a score of 68.40.

“I had an epic day,” he said at the time. “I’m stoked.”

Thompson says every national team is “pushing really hard” but NZ are right up there with them.

“NZ snowboarding has never been in a better place.”

Next up is the fourth world cup slopestyle, in California’s Mammoth Mountain Resort on Friday, US time.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz