Southern Africa’s premier snowsports event, the Ultimate Ears Winter Whip Snowboard and Ski Festival, takes to the Afriski Mountain Resort slopes for its 6th year.
Afriski, South Africa – The 2019 Ultimate Ears Winter Whip Snowboard and Ski Festival saw perfect bluebird day conditions over the four-day event (25-28 July) at the Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho. Over 60 local and international Snowboarders and Skiers participated in the Slopestyle competition with Anthon Bosch and Amy Kawanishi winning the Pro Men’s and Ladies categories respectively.
The action kicked off on the Friday night with the newly added Red Bull Rail Jam that took place at the bottom of the slope on a perfectly manicured, floodlit rail garden. The hour and a half jam session saw riders showcase their best skills on a variety of rails on offer. Japan’s Shotaro Koyama impressed the judges with his dialled Backside 360 off the Pole Jam/ Cannon to take the win.
Saturday saw the main Slopestyle event take place on the resort’s Kapoko Park course that included a mix of rail and box features in the top section before leading into the last two kicker platforms. With the park offering fun and technical options, competitors were able to progress through their runs in the jam style contest.
In the premier Pro Men division, Wesley Schallen looked to be on track for his first podium finish, but mistakes in his final two runs put him out of the running, and he finished in 4th place. Japan’s Shotaro Koyama, hot off his Rail Jam win, put down solid runs that included big Method Grabs, a Switch Backside 180 and a Backside 360 Indy Grab to take 3rd place overall. Kaylib Louw secured his spot on the podium yet again landing tricks like his Switch Backroll, Cab 540, Switch Backside 180 and Frontside 360 Boardslide to finish in 2nd place. International pro Snowboard athlete, Anthon Bosch entered the event for the first time and brought with him spectacular style and skills that was incredible to witness at Winter Whip. His Backside Rodeo, Frontflip, Backside and Frontside 360s, and strong rail game saw him walk away with the win.
“My first ever Winter Whip was a blast, a very professionally executed event. I was stoked to meet the local snowboard community that I’ve followed from overseas for a long time now. I am so grateful to see there’s an upcoming new generation that I could support with my experience and knowledge about the sport. Afriski offers a snowboard park that is two times bigger than the park I started out on. The future is looking bright! I recently recovered from a minor knee injury from Audi Nines in Austria during May this year, so it was a perfect start of the season for me to join Winter Whip and being able to walk out with a win was just a bonus for me.” Anthon Bosch.
The Ladies division was the biggest the event has had to date.
A training camp held by the event organisers the week before and hosted by five-time Winter Whip winner, Mawa Jekot, paid off. Unfortunately, Jekot was not able to defend her title due to an injury sustained during the official practice, thus opening the door for a new victor in the division. Donna Crossan’s performance put her in 3rd place while Mary Carminati finished in 2nd place. Japan’s Amy Kawanishi was dominant throughout the competition landing Backside 180’s, Indy Grabs and a Frontside 360 To claim victory.
The Open Men division is always a hotly contested one between the competitors, a division that’s all about progression and putting it all on the line. In the end, it was Dean Cowley who took the win with his steezy Method Airs and Tail Bonks over the barrel. Daniel Rossen-Iversen finished in 2nd with Ciaran Greef following in 3rd place.
The newly added Legends class saw the return of past South African greats and opened the door for older riders to compete for podium positions. Rueben Storbeck, head Kapoko Park builder, stormed through his runs with style and tricks like a Cab 540, Frontside 360 and Front Boardslides on the rails to take the win. Kuba Granicki managed to put down two solid runs with good overall style and flow that saw him sneak into 2nd place. Daniel Petro rounded off the podium in 3rd place.
It was all Linze Veenstra (aka JTK) in the Ski division as he reclaimed his crown with runs that saw a Switch Backflip, 360s and a Superman Frontflip. Italy’s Kevin Rovati put in a strong performance with stylish tricks to take 2nd place while Jono Morely finished in 3rd.
The future of South African Snowboarding was showcased with the Juniors division.
Newcomer, Sinjin Caromba was impressive through the park and scored himself 3rd pace. Local Lesotho rider, Sekhola Ramonotsi, improves every time he rides and was on form this year with bid Straight Airs and 50-50 Shifty’s on the Butter Box to take 2nd place. Kyle Benade upped his game and put down Method Airs, Nose Gabs and Indy Grabs to take home the win.
It was an all-out Lesotho battle in the Junior Ski division with Tabang Mabari taking the win. Sekhola Ramonotsi, competing in both the junior Snowboarding and Skiing divisions, took another podium finish in 2nd place, and Makoko Kabai finished in 3rd place.
Caitlin van Salty took the win in the Girls junior Ski division.
The competition was ended off with the Red Bull Ollie-Off knockout rounds. Heated battles where the order of the day, and it came down to a closely contested final between Kevin Hingst and Anthon Bosch, with Bosch taking the win.
Ultimate Ears treated the athletes and resort guests to activations and giveaways throughout the weekend, as well as their exclusive lounge offering hot chocolate and gluhwein, and the perfect view of the Slopestyle competition. Zappa Sambuca kicked off the après-ski party on the snow and celebrations went on late into the night with a performance by The Kiffness and resident DJ MJ Haze.
Event organiser, Ryan van der Spuy commented, “It was an incredible four days on the snow showcasing the best of Southern Africa Snowboarding and Skiing action. Witnessing international stars mixing it up with our local heroes marked a proud moment in the event’s history. Local snow sports is in a good place and a big thank you goes to all involved in making the Ultimate Ears Winter Whip possible”.