High fliers entertain at Snow Park NZ

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Wanaka rider Stef Zeestraten beat a field of 50 international riders to take the men’s title in Saturday’s Billabong Bro Down.

The 27-year-old’s winning run was the very first of the finals, in the slopestyle event at Snow Park NZ, Wanaka.

Zeestraten says: “It was a fun event. I’m stoked to ride away with it and to ride with some solid riders.

“The boys were killing it so I’m happy to be part of that.”

A total of 95 local and overseas riders from 15 countries contested the four divisions of the Bro Down, which had a $30,000 prize pool.

The Bro Down was the first southern hemisphere stop on the 2012-13 TTR World Snowboard Tour.

The winning run began with a ‘cab 270 gap’ to the down rail, followed by a frontside 720, a backside 900, switch backside double cork 1080 and a switch 50-50 on the final feature.

Dutch-born Zeestraten took home $5,000 US and prizes, which include a $1000 digital camera by event sponsors Sony.

Auckland’s Christy Prior won the women’s division – and secured a wildcard to the Burton High Fives Invitational at Snow Park NZ in two weeks.

Prior’s run included an air over the petrol tank feature, a boardslide onto the rail, a frontside rodeo 540, a cab 540, backside 360 and method air off the pole to finish. The 23-year-old only began competing internationally last season.
 
The course featured 12, 15 and 18-metre jumps along with a variety of obstacles.

Wanaka rider and qualifier winner Shelly Gotlieb was second, while Japanese 16-year-old Yuki Kadono was second in the men’s final.

Defending champion, Finnish rider Roope Tonteri was third in the first event of his 35-event season. 

Canadian Tyler Nicholson won back-to-back titles in the men’s junior division. The 17-year-old 2011 Bro Down winner considered entering the open men’s but decided against it after seven months rehab off the snow. Aussie Alex Fitch won the women’s juniors.