Burton Open stars are going for glory

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Things have just got a whole lot easier for once-hard-up snowboarder Shelley Gotlieb. 

Two years ago, the Wanaka-based rider survived on carrots and bananas as she trekked around the globe competing at major snowboarding events while living out of rental cars. 

But last month Gotlieb and other snowboarders who compete in slopestyle, got the news they’d been waiting years for – the discipline has finally been accepted as an Olympic sport. 

And with that, the money starts flowing more freely. 

“Slopestyle now falls under the Government funding with Sparc and it means we now have access to facilities like physios, sports psychologists and coaches,” Gotlieb says. 

“They also allow us to have a food budget – but I’ll still buy carrots,” she laughs. 

Gotlieb, 31, was in Queenstown this week with United States pro rider Benji Farrow to promote next week’s Burton NZ Open, held at Cardrona Alpine Resort. 

Gotlieb placed fourth overall in the Burton Global Open Series last year – including notching a second place at the 2010 NZ Open – and hopes for another good result this time around. 

“It’s especially great competing in my home country,” she says. 

Farrow, 19, is one to watch in both halfpipe and slopestyle events. Last year was his first time in the Burton Global Open Series and he finished sixth. 

“This season I have more goals and higher hopes,” he says. 

Farrow says he chooses to specialise in both disciplines so he can be a better rider. 

“Because snowboarding’s growing so fast as a sport, a lot of riders can’t do both anymore. I want to be able to compete in both and have success in both.” 

Burton NZ Open starts next Tuesday and runs till next Saturday.