When: September 20, 2008

Where: Snowpark, NZ

Taking full advantage of the warm spring South Island conditions, Stylewars has stayed true to its reputation of delivering large progressive terrain features where the sport of Snowboarding can be presented within competition format at its current evolutionary peak.

With huge kickers, transfers, quarter pipes, step ups, stair-rail sets and halfpipes, Snow Park, Wanaka has really proved itself yet again to be the best freestyle specific resort in the world and therefore a logical home for the New Zealand leg of Stylewars where today a new Grand Master was crowned and New Zealand grabbed the cup convincingly from the former Cup holding team, Australia.

Team New Zealand win The Bledisnow Cup - photo Alex Roberts

The standard of the riding was high from all of the southern hemisphere athletes having had three good months of training under their belts due to the amazingly deep winter snowfall that 2008 has brought to both New Zealand and the Australian mountains.

The large freestyle features took their toll on the competitors, reducing the field from 36 down to the final 26 but also pushing the level of riding to new heights. Standouts were three Australian athletes who took on the largest (and most dangerous) feature at sunset and threw down massive tricks under extremely difficult conditions due to the massive size of the jump but also the small area to land in making it essential to land cleanly or face falling through dirt and boulders with painful consequences. Nate Johnston (RIPCURL, ROSSIGNOL) with a perfect back 7 rodeo, Mikey Williams (DC, ELECTRIC) pulled off a perfect back 5 and back 7 and Ben Bright (ENDEAVOR SNOWBOARDS) threw down a bag of huge tricks including back 180s, cab 5, back rodeo 5, back 3 and closing the session with a cab 7 which won overall Stylewars New Zealand best trick award.

“I just wanted to go out and show the ‘professional snowboarders’ what should be done on a perfect transfer gap. I am a coach and manager these days (Torah Bright 2007 Swatch TTR World Champion (AUS), Scotty James 2008 US Open Junior Jam Halfpipe title holder (AUS)) and was riding just for fun and to show up the big dogs! I had to come out of retirement to represent." Benny Bright said jokingly.

The overall event title of Grand Master went to US athlete and Breckenridge Colorado local Eric Willett (VANS, SMITH, FLUX, ZION SNOWBOARDS, ME.GLAD APPAREL) who showed technical skill and style across all judged sessions putting him in first position on the score board.

The event has an added twist to it with a rider vote adding the equivalent of a full extra day of competition points. Benny Bright (AUS) and Nate Johnston (AUS) came out on top of the rider vote boosting them both up the standings and almost pushing Nate into the Grand Master position.

The New Zealand team took the Bledisnow Cup title back from Australia who won the Australian leg in Falls Creek Victorian back in August 2008.

2008 STYLEWARS New Zealand


1. Eric Willett (USA) 2. Nate Johnston (AUS) 3. Nick Hyne (NZ) 4. Mark Anderson (NZ) 5. Jorum Makuru (NZ) 6. Nick Brown (NZ) 7. Stef Zeestraten (NZ) 8. Geoff Brown (CAN) 9. Nick Poochachoff (USA) 10. Ben Bright (AUS) 11. Heath Patterson (NZ) 12. Scotty James (AUS) 13. Chis Willett (USA) 14. Cohen Davies (AUS) 15. Andy Lloyd (AUS) 16. Ryan Tiene (AUS) 17. Tom Grooten (NZ) 18. Leroy Christianson (NZ) 19. Shelly Gotlieb (NZ) 20. Roland Morley Brown (NZ) 21. Mikey Williams (AUS) 22. Jye Kearney (AUS) 23. Quentin Robbins (NZ) 24. Pete Long (AUS) 25. Andrew Monsberger (AUT) 26. Will Jackways (NZ)