Winter is at its zenith and that means only one thing: Quiksnow
Africa's premier snowboarding contest is gearing up to throw down at a new location that will have more rails, bigger kickers and easier access than previous events.Presented by Resolution, the contest will run from August 1 - 4 and is hosted for the first time by Afriski in the heart of the Maluti Mountains, a mere five hour drive from Johannesburg and six hours from Durban (on tarred roads all the way).
Another first will be the presence of Bag Jump, a device to safely attempt new moves without the risk of serious injury. Similar in concept to the foam pits used by FMX and skateboard pros, riders will have the opportunity to perfect their most dangerous tricks before taking them onto the snow.
DC Shoes will be getting involved for the first time with a Rail Jam happening on one of the evenings. A free ride format rewarding creativity and as opposed to a formal scoring format which penalises falling, riders will be rewarded with prizes ranging from snow gear and footwear to boards for the best showing of the evening.
After a one year hiatus Quiksnow is returning with a vengeance. A park with more rails than you can imagine and kickers ranging from the 3 - 20 m range are prepped and ready for South Africa's best to show what they are capable of. This will also be the first year that the Snowboarding championships have been run independently of the ski championships, which is a big vote of confidence for the fledgling sport. "We feel that the momentum Quiksnow has built up over the last few years has reached the point where the event can run on it's own steam, not only in terms of media and sponsors but in terms of riders and riding level," said Quiksilver marketing manager Dane Patterson. "The fact that the resort is fully booked is a testament to just how much Quiksnow has grown".
A dedicated team has spent weeks prepping the course, ensuring a run as outstanding as humanly possible. "We want riders of all levels to have a good time," commented Ollie Schwankhart, the event organiser and SA Snow sports Association representative, "But we also want to push the level of riding and build on the development and growth we've experienced every year. Our top guys need to have the facilities to prepare them for an international level of competition. A big part of that is creating top quality rails and kickers that will push the riders to the edge of what they can do."
That edge may be significantly beyond passed events, with a number of the top riders showing significant progression garnered from travelling to Europe and the US over the domestic off season. The recently held Kings Cup was marked by an intense clash between Marcin Jekot and Rueben Storbeck in the mens division. Marcin is probably the most competitively successful snowboarder in South Africa, but consecutive years riding and working in the resorts of North America have helped Rueben close the gap. Storbeck took top honours at King's Cup with a number of spins including a text book Backside 5 (a 540º rotation where the rider is unable to see his landing and must do so "blind"). Marcin's younger sister and fellow champion Marta Jekot is likely to continue her stranglehold on the Woman's Division and spectators will be looking to see if any challengers can end her domination of the Roxy Slopestyle and Slalom events.
Dark horses in the Mens Division include Kat Maponyane and Matt Amoretti, two of the younger, hungrier riders eager to earn the accolade of best in the country. Quiksilver team rider Maponyane has said "I've been to Quiksnow three times and was checking out the park earlier this week. I don't think I've ever seen it looking this good. There's a lot of chatter amongst the riders about how stoked they are." Either competitor has the skill to top the podium in Slopestyle.
Quiksnow 2010 is about speed and style, with two divisions: Giant Slalom and Slopestyle. Giant slalom involves getting down the mountain along a predetermined course as fast as possible and is a thrilling race against the clock. Slopestyle is more interpretive. Each contestant must navigate a series of kickers, rails and obstacles, utilizing the course to showcase their skill, style, and control. Both divisions guarantee thrills and spills, with presenting sponsor Resolution putting R1000 in cash in the hands of the rider deemed to have taken the worst slam of the event.
It's going to be glory, fun and chaos in the mountains in August, and all of it will broadcast on an upcoming episode of Boardriders TV on SuperSport..
Photo: Quiksilver team rider Kat Maponyane midway through a frontside tailslide at the last Quiknow event. Photo by Barry Tuck.
Take a look at the AfriSki weather wall for the current snow conditions
There are ski and other winter packages available via Lesotho Lodge.