Well-wishers lined the streets of central Wanaka, New Zealand this afternoon to welcome participants in the inaugural FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships.
Over 300 athletes aged between 13 and 20, from 26 nations paraded through the town center, accompanied by flag bearers from the local primary school. Following the parade, the athletes were given a traditional Maori welcome or powhiri by local iwi member Paul Tamati who said it was a privilege to be able to welcome the athletes to New Zealand.
FIS Junior World Championships’ Parade of Nations led by event patron Juliane Bray
Dean Gosper of FIS thanked the Wanaka community and welcomed the athletes on behalf of Gian Franco Kasper, FIS President to a championship of firsts, the first FIS World Championship in the Southern Hemisphere, the first World Championship to combine freeskiing and snowboarding and the first World Championship to include slopestyle. He then went on to wish the athletes good luck saying, “The feeling of pride and the sense of achievement at having done your best will be overwhelming, this is your event and I wish you all a safe and rewarding competition.”
John Wilson, deputy mayor of the Queenstown Lakes region extended a warm welcome to the athletes to the fastest growing region of New Zealand. “One of the influencing factors of this growth is the significant investment that has been made in snow sports,” he said.
Before Ross Palmer, CEO of Snow Sports New Zealand officially opened the championships, patron Juliane Bray spoke saying what an honor it was to be patron for such an historic and high caliber event. “What we love about our sport is that we keep pushing, always trying better tricks and going faster. Some of the best athletes in the world are here and I’m expecting to see world records, not just junior world records.”
The on-snow action starts tomorrow, Saturday August 21 at Snow Park NZ with the snowboard slopestyle event. Viewers can track all the FIS Junior World Championship events in real-time scoring. For further information and full schedule of events, visit www.juniorworldsnz.co.nz.