The first annual Burton ‘High Fives’ snowboarding competition, presented by MINI, continued today at Snow Park NZ in Wanaka with the exciting Slopestyle Finals. Taking first place and walking away $USD 10,000 richer each, were Burton riders Mikkel Bang (NOR) and Enni Rukajarvi (FIN).
60 of the top snowboarders in the world have experienced a snowboarding event like no other in New Zealand this week as the Burton High Fives combined traditional snowboarding eventswith unique off-snow team challenges. The first two days of the event saw the riders taking part in a variety of Kiwi-influenced challenges including skeet shooting, knife throwing and jet boat racing, just to name a few. The athletes also took to the driving track for the MINI Countryman Winter Driving Challenge where the fastest teams got the advantage of selecting the order for halfpipe and slopestyle. With the first two days of off-snow team challenges now completed, the action today shifted back toSnow Park NZ and the world-class slopestyle course.
Under sunny skies, the women were first up in the slopestyle finals. The Burton High Fives’ jam format allowed each rider to get four runs, which lead to an exciting competition for the women. Burton’s Enni Rukajarvi’s (FIN) impressive third run scored her an 83.80 with an indy air, boardslide, frontside 3 indy, back 5, cab 5, and stale. Local New Zealand rider Christy Prior felt right at home nailing second place in her final run with 78.20. Her solid run consisted of an ollie, backside lipslide, front 3 tailtap, front rodeo 7, back 3, and backside air. Ty Walker (USA) came in third in her final run with 77.00. She locked in the final podium spot with a run that included a 50/50, lipslide, front 3 tailtap, frontside 3, back 7, and a method.
Burton rider Mikkel Bang (NOR) was the clear standout throughout the men’s competition as he took the lead right off the bat with his first run score of 91.00 – only to top it on his second run with 95.40 points. Mikkel’s winning run started out with a switch backside 1, front 270, back 5, switch back 12, front 10 double, and a backside rodeo 5 stale over the final hip jump. Head Judge, Mel Simmons, commented, “Mikkel’s run had everything, it was tech, it had the spins, and it was totally stomped. It was the complete package”.
For the rest of the men’s field it was a matter of catch up, and it all came down to their final runs as top riders leap-frogged each other for the remaining podium spots. Sebastien Toutant (CAN) busted into second place with 94.00 points, courtesy of a back 3, frontblunt sameways 270, front 3 tail, back 10 double, front 10 double, and double back rodeo to finish. Taking third place with 92.00 points was Stale Sandbech (NOR), his run started with a 50/50 front 1 close out, hardways 270, cab 5,front 10, back 14, and alley oop.
Prize money today totalled US $35,000, with the same amount on the table again for tomorrow’s halfpipe finals. While competing for individual results in slopestyle, riders were also representing 12 teams selected earlier in the week for the off-snow challenges. Points from those challenges will be combined with points from today’s slopestyle and tomorrow’s halfpipe rankings, and the top team will walk away with an additional US $10,000 to split between them. The total prize purse of US $80,000 is the largest to date in New Zealand snow sports history.
The Burton High Fives will wrap up tomorrow with the halfpipe finals so be sure to check the live webcast on www.opensnowboarding.com starting at 10:15am New Zealand standard time. At the conclusion of the Halfpipe prize giving, the High Fives Sunset Sessions will take place at the Woolshed at Snow Park NZ from 3-6pm, featuring Dudstown Soundsystem. The entertainment continues with the High Fives Closing Party later in the evening at Opium Bar in Wanaka, also featuring Dudstown Soundsystem.