Wanaka, New Zealand (August 19, 2008) The Volkl NZ Freeski Open by the Royal New Zealand Air Force kicks off this week with an all star line up of the world’s best extreme freeskiers.

The fourth annual event covers three major freeski disciplines: Slopestyle, Halfpipe and Big Mountain. The Slopestyle and Halfpipe are held at Snow Park NZ. Big Mountain freeskiers face the steepest and most challenging terrain testing the chutes of The Remarkables and Treble Cone ski areas. 180 entrants will compete in total over the three disciplines for the $35,000 prize pool.

Top athletes include Winter X Games medallists Jossi Wells (Wanaka, NZ) and Colby West (USA), European Open Winner Russ Henshaw (AUS) and World Freeskiing Tour Medallist Janina Kuzma (Wanaka, NZ). The athlete line-up is in fact so power packed that it rivals that of the biggest events on the international circuit.

For up and coming New Zealand elite and professional athletes, the event provides an opportunity to compete against the world’s best in an international level event right at their doorstep. Run by Snow Sports NZ (SSNZ) and the Freeski Association of New Zealand (FSANZ) the event is now the pinnacle freeski event of the Southern Hemisphere.

Nick Draxl, President of FSANZ says that the event is crucial for the development of the sport in NZ.

 

“Having an international freeski event held on home soil not only allows our athletes the best opportunity for international success it also increases the profile of NZ as an international destination for winter sports”.

Aside from the athletes, the event has attracted the world’s best Judges including Winter X Games Head Judge, Josh Loubek (USA) and World Freeskiing Tour Head Judge Jim Jack (USA). As a NZ Freeski Association initiative, both judges will be running workshops prior to the event to help the development of NZ Judges.

Winter sport brand Volkl Ski has returned as naming sponsor and The Royal NZ Air Force (RNZAF) has stepped up to the plate as presenting sponsor to show their support for young Kiwi’s staking their claim in the world of freeskiing.

RNZAF Director of Recruitment, Lisa D'Oliveira is excited to be supporting the event.

“This is a not for profit event run for the benefit of the sport in NZ so RNZAF will be helping to support health and fitness of young New Zealanders through this popular sporting genre”.

In a bid to make the event accessible to New Zealand and the world, daily webcasts will be posted on the internet, giving athletes along with their friends, family and fans the opportunity to view each day’s footage at their leisure.

Spectators are encouraged to witness the finals of the Slopestyle and Halfpipe events from 1pm at Snow Park on the 22nd and 23rd August. The Remarkables will host the qualifying round of the Big Mountain event on the 25th August and Treble Cone is hosting the finals from 10am on Tuesday the 26th August. Spectators should bring a comfy seat/rug.

To visit the event promotion, go to http://www.freeskiopennz.com. Media representatives wishing to obtain an FTP login and password to easily obtain footage, photos and daily press releases please contact Kristy Quin at kristy@snowsports.co.nz

Confirmed invited athletes

Mirjam Jaeger

Female:

Anna Segal (AUS)

Ashley Battersby (USA)

Kim Lamarre (USA)

Anais Caradeux (FR)

Janina Kuzma (NZ)

Rosalind Groenenwoud (USA)

Kerri Herman (USA)

Jossi Wells

Male:

Colby West (USA)

Xavier Bertoni (FR)

Jossi Wells (NZ)

Russ Henshaw (AUS)

Sam Smoothy (NZ)

Brett Crabtree (CAN)

Justin Dorey (CAN)


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