The South American Cup (SAC) Park & Pipe season wrapped up lwith back-to-back competitions as part of the Ford Chile Winter Series presented by Visa, with big air action first taking to El Colorado from 13-15 August, followed by the SAC season-ender slopestyle in Valle Nevado from 17-19 August. With a high level of competition from national and international athletes and excellent venues at both events, the 2023 SAC finished on a high note.
With important FIS points up for grabs and a pathway to a World Cup quota spot for the top athletes of the season, there was a lot on the line for the snowboarders and freeskiers on hand in Chile last week.
The snowboard big air competitions in El Colorado were dominated by the host Chileans, with Amanda Cardone claiming victory in both competitions on the women’s side, and Alvaro Yanez with the win in competition one on the men’s side. Yanez’ Chilean teammate Pedro Pizarro took the win in competition two for the men.
For the freeskiers, meanwhile, it was more good news for Chile, with World Cup veteran Dominique Ohaco going back-to-back with victories for the women, and Francisco Salas taking the win in competition number two for the men. The lone non-Chilean win came in the first men’s competition of the El Colorado event, where Nahuel Medrano of Argentina claimed the W.
If Cardone wasn’t already looking like the most exciting snowboard prospect to come out of South America in quite some time after her wins in Colorado, she certainly looked it after her performances in Valle Nevado, where she once again went b2b with slopestyle victories in both competitions at the SAC finale.
Alvaro Yanez also earned himself another victory in day one of slopestyle competition at Valle Nevado, while it was Argentina’s Valentin Morel with the victory in the second day of action.
On the women’s side for the freeskiers the El Colorado story repeated itself in Valle Nevado, where Ohaco again claimed victories in both slopestyle competitions. Meanwhile for the men it was Argentinian Medrano going back-to-back for his second and third victories of the week.
The snow-covered slopes of Mt Hotham, Australia, witnessed an exhilarating showdown of talent as athletes from across the globe gathered for the FIS Australia and New Zealand Continental Cups (ANC). The atmosphere was charged with excitement as the host nation, along with participants from the USA, Great Britain, China, Japan, New Zealand, Chile, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, and Ireland, showcased their skills on the challenging courses.
The ski cross events kicked off on Wednesday, showcasing the international flair of the competition. In the men's event, World Cup athlete Doug Crawford emerged victorious, with Alfred Wenk securing second place and Emerson Facer taking the bronze. Meanwhile, Japan's Lin Nakanishi claimed the gold in the women's ski cross, followed by Jesse Quinn in second and Koko Kawashima in third.
Thursday saw the continuation of ski cross action with the ANC 2 event. Liam Michael took the lead in the men's race, followed by Doug Crawford in second and Duncan Cowan in third. On the women's side, April Wynn secured the win, joined on the podium by Lin Nakanishi and Kyra Wheatley.
Reflecting on the intense competition, Doug Crawford shared, "They’ve been two pretty long days, so it's been a test of nutrition and how to manage fatigue. It’s all been a bit of fun getting back into it and racing against the boys."
With an eye on the upcoming international season, Crawford emphasized the significance of these domestic events as preparation for the global stage. "It’s nice to continue to have a name spot [for the upcoming World Cup season] and to have more boys going up to the World Cup level."
As the ski cross events unfolded, the ANC Snowboard Cross events were scheduled to take place from Thursday to Saturday. The snowboarders brought their own brand of excitement to the mountain, with Australia’s national team members and Paralympic snowboarders Ben Tudhope and Sean Pollard also joining the mix.
In the women’s snowboard cross ANC race Amber Essex clinched victory, edging out 2023 World Championships’ silver medallist Josie Baff and Abbey Wilson, who finished in second and third, respectively. Czech snowboarding Olympian Jan Kubicik secured the men's SBX final, with Declan Dent of Australia in second place and Kenshin Kiyota of Japan in third.
While the competition was fierce, nature had its own plans. Heavy snowfall forced the cancellation of the final ski cross event and the second snowboard cross event on Friday. However, the athletes' spirits remained high, and the final snowboard cross event on Saturday was a pure blast.
With international athletes showcasing their prowess and camaraderie, Mt Hotham truly became a hub of winter sports excellence during this ANC Ski Cross and Snowboard Cross series. The future looks promising as these events serve as a prelude to the upcoming international season, promising more adrenaline-fueled moments on the slopes.