Mount Olympus Freeride Open 2019
By Ben Hume.
The Mount Olympus Freeride Open (MOFO for short) is the brainchild of Freeride World Tour Judge and Kiwi Freeride godfather Dion Newport. Since it’s inception in 2016 MOFO has become a mainstay in the NZ Freeride calendar, attracting seasoned internationals and first time competitors alike to the playground of the gods. After a hectic couple of days in Queenstown for the Winter Games, I was stoked to get back to my local for life at a lesser pace and hopefully a bit of home turf advantage.
The night before the Open, ‘Ardies’ was announced as a venue, leaving me giddy with excitement I thought to myself “tomorrow is going to be loose.” Upon Realization that I had never actually skied ‘Ardies’ the mood dropped back to a little, there goes the home turf advantage...
Given it was the first week of term 4, 3 uni mates and myself had a leisurely 4:30am wake up in Christchurch to make the 7:30am riders briefing at Olympus. Early doors for a lazy student such as myself.
Given the solar vulnerability of the venue, we were given a quick 30-minute inspection of the face after briefing then sent straight up the steep boot pack to get things underway.
It seemed as though the higher we climbed, the more the venue changed. What seemed like a perfect take off from below could have actually been a 2 foot high jagged rock pile from above. It is safe to say my line was adjusted by the time I made it to the top.
Defending champion Matt Sweet dropped in second out of the ski males, sending his fellow competitors into hysterics with a monstrous backflip over a blind wind lip; unfortunately, he went too big and had to kiss his title goodbye.
Then and there the tone was set. Everyone knew they had to send it if they wanted to stand out in a strong field of 40 ski men. Young Olympus local Henry Freeman dropped early in the pack, linking together a fluid line with a heap of features.
I dropped next heading far skiers left in an attempt to separate myself from the rest field and was delighted by the slightly corny turns up top that I had expected to be hard pack. Managing to link a few technical turns and a decent sized backflip before reaching the finish line, I was happy with my run but knew I could have done more to put myself in podium contention.
Wanaka local Ben Richards was one of the favourites coming hot off a 2nd place at the TNF Frontier 2* in Queenstown the week before. Unfortunately, he set his backflip a little too hot, pictured below mid-air but not mid-rotation. If I hadn’t seen this in person, I would have guessed it to be a text book superman front flip…HUGE!
Tenra Katsuno pledged his case to the judges by linking a backflip and a wild cork 3 pictured below. This young Japanese skier has a very bright future ahead, someone keep an eye on the kid!
Manu Barnard, also from Wanaka and fresh off the podium at the TNF Frontier 2* put down the “move of the day”, stomping a MASSIVE cork 3 on the same hit as Tenra. With only 1 point separating the two young guns, Manu took 3rd place while Tenra slid into 2nd. Taking out the top spot at the end of the day was Austrian Tao Kreibich who is set to make his Freeride World Tour debut come 2020, it’s amazing the calibre of riders the MOFO can attract!
The level of riding at the MOFO this year was insane, the top 5 Ski Men all scored 90 or above (out of a possible 100) with me happily landing in 5th place. It’s awesome to have this level of competition take place in the clubbies, displaying Canterbury skiing at its finest to the worlds finest. All of which is made possible due to the tireless work of Mount Olympus, Dion Newport and the whole NZJFT crew.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Bollen (@mrbollen) and 208 Media (@208media).
While attending Canterbury University Ben made the most of a Chill Season Pass and wrote regular features for Chill about epic days in the mountains and events.