Australia has come along way in the past ten years in terms of the best stops on the world snowboard tour calendar.
Australia has come along way in the past ten years, from being ridiculed for having below average parks and big air events built with no landings and not enough speed to clear gaps, but fast forward to 2013 and the top snowboarders in the world are now calling the Australian Slopestyle Series one of the highlights on the World Snowboard Tour calendar.
Gjermund Braaten said the standard of riding and the line up for the Mile High was second only to the X Games in Aspen which is a huge statement. It has attracted some of the biggest names in contest snowboarding, whether it was because the Olympics were around the corner and everyone wanted to keep the momentum up or that Snowpark, NZ was closed or even that Cardrona wasn’t up to scratch.
It seemed that Perisher was the place to be and by the end of August the who’s who of snowboarding had all rolled into town. There were even sightings of Shaun White and Mark McMorris cruising the set-up.
It was awesome to see first hand the international riders throwing down. It seemed every second person was speaking in Norwegian or a foreign language. The world’s best park riders were lapping, changing up their runs constantly which was as much for practice as it was for competition. The Jam format meant that creativity started to flow rather than repetition ruling the event. Ståle Sandbech, Torgeir Bergrem, Aleksander Ostreng, Emil Andre Ulsletten, Antoine Truchon, Chas Guldemond and a truck load of other park shreds were putting on a sick show.
a sick show.
This was the first year The Mile High by Carlton Dry had been held in its new home of Perisher and the fit was perfect. The format for the event was this: 90 competitors including 20 invited riders. The majority of the world’s top 20 riders were all shredding at the event which definitely raised the standard of riding.
While the rest of Australia was struggling with snow conditions the park at Perisher was top-notch, bigger than it has ever been, with a perfectly shaped jump line and plenty of features that the riders could get creative on. Englishman Billy Morgan threw down the first triple cork ever done in Australia while Scotty James was right behind him and claimed the title of the first Australian to stomp a triple cork. Olympic slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kostenburg was also throwing down some monster tricks while filming for the Holy Crail web series.
The competition really had a mind of its own, we had decided on a format which didn’t end up working out how we planned. Instead of having a pre-qualification system allowing the invited riders to go straight to the finals, it was changed so that everyone had to get a score. However, the invited riders were able to do their two judged runs whenever they chose but everyone else had to do their judged runs in order. This went out the window due to all of the riders just dropping in whenever they felt like it. It was pretty chaotic but rad to see all the riders sending it in a jam format, the judges definitely had their work cut out for them though. There were so many insane tricks stomped and it turned into one of the sickest jam sessions that had ever been seen on Australian soil.
In the end it all came together with a final field that really reflected who was at the top of slopestyle riding in the world. The finals definitely showcased the cream of the crop but with that said the qualification day was just as insane to watch as well.
The Mile High will be back on the 25th-27th of August, 2014 with a bunch of sick international riders already confirmed, including the Shredbots and the set-up is going to be even bigger and better. Stay tuned.
Photos by Alex Roberts