Well I’m back in Vermont! After being in a foreign country during their winter for over a month has made me realize just how awesome this life of a competitive snowboarder can be! During my trip I met so many new people and learned so many new things from the country of New Zealand. So if you have nothing else to do here is a quick rundown of how my time went while in “eNZed”.
After having spent the first four days of my trip in North Island with some family friends I arrived in Wanaka on July 28th. Wanaka reminded me very much of my hometown, a small resort town filled with skiers and snowboarders and I felt right at home. The NZ Open wasn’t till the 10th so I had plenty of time to get my comfort level on snow back. For the first half of my trip I was staying in the Wanaka Backpacka Hostel and hitchhiking up to Cardrona everyday, this being my first time to Cardrona Resort I wasn’t quite ready for the ride up the access road. While I hung on to anything in my reach the local who picked me up was singing AC/DC and telling me he had done this road a million times.
A couple days later the SMS crew rolled up and I got to shred along side my PacSun team members Spencer Shaw and Eric Beauchmin as well as everyone else at SMS who I consider good friends. Fast forward to August 11th, slopestyle qualifiers day. The weather fell perfect for everyone and people were throwing down hard. On my first run I sketched on the final jump and my score reflected this and left me about ten spots out of where I needed to be to move through to the next round. On my second run I eased back and focused on being really clean through all the features, I stomped my final jump and felt confident that my score would bump me up to where I needed to be. Apparently the judges felt the same cause my score was way higher then I expected and moved me into first! I ended up staying there and winning the qualifying day, which was a huge surprise and a great accomplishment for me. My friends and Pacsun team members Paul Brichta, Spencer Shaw and Ryan Stassel also made it through.
The following day was pipe qualifying day and the weather started to go bad, it got cold and windy and the pipe was a bit icy. The conditions reminded me of riding my home pipe back east in mid January so though it scared me I was used to it. On my first run I stomped a clean run that had me sitting in third place, due to the conditions and the advice of ISTC coach Ben Boyd I opted not to put down a second run and risk injury. My third place finish Qualifiers was plenty good enough to move me on to the finals on Saturday.
Friday the 12th was slopestyle finals day and the weather took a turn for the worst. The rain and fog came in very heavily and made it hard to see more then 100 ft in front of you. The Cardrona park crew did a great job of keeping the jumps dyed and since the judge were following our runs on a live video feed the event went on. On my first run I got off to a poor start, on my first rail I ended up coming out regular instead of switch and then I had to hit the second feature regular, but after that I got back on track and made it smoothly through my run up until the last jump. As I approached the last jump I was finding it very very hard to see and I completely popped way wrong and ended up doing the weirdest backside 720 ever! Needless to say I landed on my back and the run ended up being a throwaway. My second run I decided to calm down a little and try to ride super clean, it worked. My first two rails were smooth and then I nailed all three of my jumps and rode away feeling pretty confident. I was surprised when I got back to the top to find that my score had me sitting in 5th place! This was much higher then I had expected and I was not disappointed at all when I few guys came through and bumped me down to 9th in the end. That was my highest finish ever at an Open or any major TTR event.
The next day I woke up, put on my wet boots and headed back up the mountain for pipe finals. The weather turned out to be beautiful and the pipe was perfect and ready to ride. My practice went well and I was feeling confident about my runs but once again I managed to mess up my first run somehow. After talking to some friends and coaches I made the choice to step up my amplitude and really go for it on my second and final run. With a little Biggie Smalls bumping in my ears I dropped in and went Crippler 7, Cab 7, Front 10, Cab 9 and rode away feeling very content. My score wasn’t quite as high as I would have liked but it left me in 17th when all was said and done. Top twenty in both NZ Open events was much better then I had expected so I can’t complain.
Well that’s the story on the NZ Open experience!! There will be another blog coming soon telling all about the Jr. Worlds and my final two and half weeks in “eNZed”.