It’s a big weekend ahead for lovers of Aussie skiers and snowboarders on the FIS World Cup circuit so mark your diaries.
Ruka, Finland is the location for the FIS Freestyle World Cup first event of the season. The Aussie mogul and aerial skiing teams will compete to claim their place on the opening ladder.
Beijing Winter Olympic gold medalist, Jakara Anthony, finished the 2023 season as the single moguls champion and will be looking to secure the same place this season with the opening event on Saturday.
Matt Graham, 2023 dual World Championship medalist and 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic silver medalist, will be competing for the first time since shoulder surgery.
“Ruka has been good so far. I am still getting my legs back a bit after my disrupted off-season due to multiple shoulder surgeries,” said Graham..
“I am pretty confident with how I am skiing and jumping, and I believe I am in a good position to have a good performance this weekend. I am excited to get the season underway and see what I am capable of considering how little I have been able to train this year.”
Also in action will be Olympic finalist Cooper Woods, Jackson Harvey, George Murphy and making his debut will be 19-year-old Oliver Logan.
Sunday sees aerial skier Danielle Scott defending her 2023 World Cup title alongside two-time World Champion and 2023 World Cup runner up, fellow Aussie, Laura Peel.
Airleigh Frigo is keen to continue building momentum after her first full World Cup season and Abbey Willcox is returning to competition after a 12 month break.
“Training in Ruka has been good although slower than normal due to some weird muscles spasms in my quads,” said Scott.
“Brisbane has been vital in my winter preparations for years now and I’m super grateful to be based on home soil with our own training times. I was able to spend a lot more time at home in between training which is huge for mental recovery.”
“After a pretty big year last year, I’m just looking forward to some nice clean jumps and keeping my body feeling healthy.”
The Australian Snowboard Team has arrived in the French Alps for the opening World Cup event of the season.
Les Deux Alpes resort will host a double event, with the first World Cup taking place on Saturday December 2, with a Team competition the next day on Sunday December 3.
The location will have great memories for World Championship medallist Josie Baff who won the opening event in Les Deux Alpes last year, the first World Cup victory of the 20-year-olds career. Belle Brockhoff will also be looking to start her season strongly after an interrupted season last year and add to her impressive World Cup podium tally.
In the men’s field three-time Olympian Cam Bolton and two-time Olympian Adam Lambert will lead the Australian charge. Two young Aussies will also make their World Cup debut’s in France, with Amber Essex (21) and James Johnstone (19) ready for their opportunity after strong domestic seasons, while Mia Clift (19) is on track for her third career start after missing a year and a half though injury.
Snowboard Big Air
The FIS Snowboard & Freeski Park & Pipe World Cup tour commenced last month in Chur, Switzerland, with a big air event taking place. China will host a big air World Cup in Beijing this weekend, and then a halfpipe World Cup event at the 2022 Olympic venue the following weekend in Secret Garden.
Teen sensation and reigning big air World Cup champion Valentino Guseli will no doubt feature strongly in China, after qualifying for finals in second place at the opening World Cup in Chur, finishing seventh in the final.
“It’s very cool to be back, I had a great time here my first time in this country for the Olympics, and now here for another great time” said Guseli.
“Training has gone great so far, the jump is super nice and I’m ready to go ham. My goals for the rest of the season are nothing short of winning everything. Either way, I am definitely going to give it my all.”
Tess Coady will be competing in her first big air event since claiming bronze at the 2023 World Championships.
“Super great to be back in China. Definitely a different vibe to last time we were here, It’s really nice to be back with the snowboard crew all just staying in the same hotel, vibing, shredding, so it’s good,” said Coady.
“Training has been going well so far. We just had our first practice day and the jump is riding really well, so we will see how the next few days unfold, the team is looking solid.”
Also in the men’s event will be Snow Australia rider Joshua Robertson-Hahn, competing in the second World Cup of his career.
Freeski will also be in action in Beijing, with Kai Martin the sole Australian representative in big air.
The following weekend in China will see the first FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup of the year take place in Secret Garden, with two-time Olympic Medallist and triple World Champion Scotty James the lone Australian in action. The Secret Garden resort was the location for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games where James took home the silver medal in an epic Olympic halfpipe final.
Halfpipe qualifying in Secret Garden is on December 6th with the final two days later on December 8th.
Valentino Guseli will not be able to compete in the halfpipe event in China, as another big air World Cup is scheduled at the same time in Edmonton, Canada, where Guseli claimed the first world Cup victory of his career 12 months ago.