It’s better than the X Games.
That’s Kiwi judge Dion Newport’s verdict on the action last weekend during the New Zealand Freeski Open at Cardrona.
Hotshot Australian Russ Henshaw celebrated his 20th birthday by winning the men’s slopestyle last Friday.
Henshaw pulled off clean back-to-back double corks – the first a left-side double cork 1080 followed by a right-side double cork 12.
“This is the first time in a slopestyle competition that we’ve seen back-to-back double corks,” Newport says.
“The level of riding was higher than at the X Games and just keeps progressing.”
Henshaw’s acrobatics relegated defending champion and American star Bobby Brown to second place. Fellow American Gus Kenworthy was third.
Wanaka’s Jossi Wells, the reigning freeski world champion, didn’t take part due to injury. In the women’s slopestyle, judges were also wowed by the performance of Canada’s Kim Lamarre.
Despite a string of crashes, she nailed a challenging switch zero spin off the big 23-metre kicker.
“She pulled out an incredibly difficult trick,” Newport says.
“She separated herself from the rest of the field today.”
Australian Anna Segal was second and Canada’s Megan Gunning was third.
American Taylor Seaton clinched the halfpipe title on Saturday with an alley-oop 900 move. Wanaka’s Byron Wells – Jossi’s younger brother – was runner-up and Canadian Noah Bowman was third.
Canada’s Megan Gunning won the women’s halfpipe. Wanaka’s Janina Kuzma was second and American Jamie Crane-Mauzy was third.