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World’s Top Free Skiers Head To New Zealand Open

One of New Zealand¹s top free skiers, Lyndon Sheehan gets
early season inversion. Credit: Frekrik Larsson

World’s Top Free Skiers Head To New Zealand Open

Top free skiers from around the world are heading to New Zealand at the end of August to compete in the world’s only heli-accessed big mountain event as part of the inaugural Free Ski Open NZ.

Skiers will integrate freestyle tricks into Mother Nature’s steepest and deepest terrain in the Volkl Big Mountain competition. New Zealand’s backcountry is deemed the ultimate skiers’ playground and with the nerves of steel and commitment these athletes have is astounding.

Current world number two big mountain skier, Aurelien Ducroz (France) and European Free Ski Champion Ted Davenport (USA) are just two of the big names who will compete in the Big Mountain. They are joined by New Zealand’s own Hamish Acland who is currently ranked fifth in the world for big mountain.

The Free Ski Open embraces both the freestyle and big mountain aspects of free skiing and the freestyle discipline has attracted some equally big names. TJ Schiller, winner of the US Open Slopestyle is joined by fellow countryman John Spriggs and US wonder kid Mike Wilson and no-one skis the park better than these guys. Schiller’s signature trick is a switch cork 1080 which in layman’s terms means he takes off backwards, does a 1080 degree spin before landing backwards.

They’ll be taking on New Zealand’s first Triple Hit Slopestyle with three consecutive tabletops ranging in size from 40ft to 70ft, as well as the massive K2 Super Pipe at Snow Park, guaranteeing a spectacular display of riding.

Hamish Acland, president of the Free Ski Association of New Zealand (FSANZ) said the high level of international competition was testament to how far the sport of free skiing has developed in New Zealand.

“These guys are coming here for the famous New Zealand terrain. They’ve heard about it from Kiwis competing overseas and now they’re coming to check it out for themselves,” he said. “This competition will undoubtedly put New Zealand on the world free skiing map which can only benefit our own athletes and the growth of the sport.”

At present there are top skiers from 10 countries including USA, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, UK, Spain, Japan and Australia registered to compete. This diverse and highly skilled field provides New Zealand competitors with a never before seen opportunity to compete against the world’s best, giving them invaluable international competition experience on their home turf.

The New Zealand Free Ski Open kicks off on 17 August with day one of the Volkl Big Mountain at Treble Cone followed by the backcountry heli-accessed finals, the location of which will be decided depending on conditions. The park action takes place at Snow Park on 23 and 24 August with the K2 Super Pipe and Triple Jump. The Open closes with the Export Gold Rail Jam Party at a location yet to be disclosed. For more information, visit


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