Southern teens star as park and pipe team named
Experienced and up-and-coming teenage snow sports athletes have been named in a 23-strong team to represent New Zealand at the 2023 FIS Park and Pipe Junior World Championships - and there's plenty of local Southern names among them.
The championships are being held at Cardrona Alpine Resort for two weeks from August 25 as part of the 2023 Winter Games NZ.
Announcing the team today, Snow Sports NZ says the world class event brings together the best junior freeskiers and snowboarders aged 14 to 18 years from around the globe, providing Kiwi athletes with the opportunity to represent New Zealand on home snow and experience a pinnacle event environment to better prepare them for international competition.
“The FIS Park and Pipe Junior World Championships is a key event for New Zealand pathway athletes to test themselves against the top junior athletes in the world. Being at home, we have the opportunity to both target podium results and also give younger athletes the opportunity to experience a pinnacle international event,” the organisation's high performance general manager Luke Hetzel says.
Titles will be awarded in Big Air, Halfpipe and Slopestyle, along with the opportunity for athletes to secure nation sports for the 2024 Youth Olympic Winter Games being held in PyeongChang, South Korea in January 2024.
Snow Sports NZ says the team selected to represent New Zealand is exceptionally strong, with many of the athletes having already achieved highly at the top level of international competition.
On the Freeski side, the team includes 2022 Freeski Halfpipe Junior World Champion, 2022 Beijing Winter Olympian and 2023 Halberg Awards Emerging Talent winner Gustav Legnavsky (Wānaka), three-time 2023 World Cup finalist Finley Melville Ives (Wānaka) and 2023 Aspen Open and European Cup Premium Freeski Halfpipe winner Luke Harrold (Lake Hāwea).
Speaking from a training camp in Mt Hood today, Mr Legnavsky said, “I am super excited to be part of such a strong team of Kiwi skiers who all have the ability to finish on the podium. Competing in front of a home crowd is always awesome and I can’t wait to be back at home at Cardrona.”
The snowboard team is equally as strong and includes 2023 World Rookie Tour Finals Snowboard Slopestyle Champion Lucia Georgalli (Wānaka) and 2023 World Rookie Tour Finals and European Cup Premium Snowboard Halfpipe Champion Cam Melville Ives (Wānaka).
Snow Sports head coach Tom Willmott says today's announced team is the "biggest and strongest yet".
"On one hand, we have athletes who will gain valuable experience from being involved as they cut their teeth at their first major international event, while we also have multiple athletes capable of podium finishes and taking out the top spot."
It will be the fourth time the event has been hosted on Kiwi slopes.
"Our coaching team are revelling at the opportunity that this event will provide as an epic event in its own right and steppingstone to major event success.”
2023 FIS Park and Pipe Junior World Championships team to represent New Zealand:
Cam Melville Ives
Fin Melville Ives
Winter Games NZ FIS Park and Pipe Junior World Championships Schedule:
27 August – Freeski Slopestyle Qualification
28 August – Snowboard Slopestyle Qualification
29 August – Freeski and Snowboard Slopestyle Finals
1 September – Freeski Big Air Qualifiers
2 September – Snowboard Big Air Qualifiers
3 September – Freeski and Snowboard Big Air Finals
6 September – Freeski and Snowboard Halfpipe Qualifiers
7 September – Freeski and Snowboard Halfpipe Finals
Main image (Snow Sports NZ): Cam Melville Ives, of Wānaka, and Luke Harrold, of Lake Hāwea, left, and Ava Beer, of Te Anau, and Lucia Georgalli, of Wānaka, right, all at the 2022 European Cup Premium.