Two weekends ago saw Africa’s top snowboarders and skiers compete in the 2015 Xperia Winter Whip Snowboard and Ski Jam. The event took part on Saturday, 15 August 2015 at the Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho, and welcomed athletes from around South Africa and Lesotho, as well as a further 9 international riders from Canada, New Zealand and Slovenia.
The Resort’s Kapoko Park was pristinely groomed and prepared over a number of weeks, in order to provide the competitors with a top-class slopestyle course to lay down their best tricks and vie for a podium position.
The Amateur division was the largest and most competitive of the day, with judges giving progression precedence throughout the day. David Copperfeel, a local rider from the Wits Ski Club put down some impressive runs and finished in 3rd place. Jason Lammers looked good to defend his 2014 title, including some steezy transfers and good amplitude in his runs, but it wasn’t enough to beat the scale and progression from Sean Irwin who claimed victory, leaving Lammers to settle for 2nd place.
JTK returned for another competition year and dominated in the Ski division taking the win convincingly with a variety of big airs, switch backflips, 360’s and a frontflip over the final feature of the course – the Ugandan Stall Rail. Slovenian skiers, Patrick Matula and Karol Hierweg put on a big battle for 2nd place with Matula claiming it in the end and Hierweg taking home 3rd.
Among the cash and product prizes, Amateur Snowboarder and Ski division winners, Sean Irwin and JTK both also took home Xperia M4 Aqua phones.
The only entrant into this year’s Junior division was 10 year old, Erin Nel, who also insisted on riding with the Ladies division in their jam session. Nel didn’t hold anything back, hitting all of the course’s big kickers and technical rail sections, taking the Junior division win. More impressive is that Nel’s overall score would have put her into 3rd place in the Ladies division – a serious future contender in ladies snowboarding.
In the Ladies division, Vanessa Jackson showed consistency in her runs throwing down a solid 180 switch 50-50 to 180 out on the flatbox to finish in 3rd position. Slovenian Martina Molnarova had solid rails, cab 180’s and switch rails featured in her runs to put her in 2nd place. Mawa Jekot was again unbeatable and defended her 2014 title with cab 360’s, frontside 360’s and steezy rails. Jekot’s 1st place also saw her win one of two Club Med prizes consisting of an all-inclusive snow holiday for two to Club Med Val Thorens in France.
The Pro Men division was the last on course for the day, never disappointing with some extremely impressive riding from all the competitors. A very close battle took place between Luke Dutton and Dean van Greunen. Dutton threw down 360’s and front lips over the kickers and a big 360 over the rainbow rail. Van Greunen had Backside 540’s on lock and solid rail riding, but it was van Greunen’s use of course and hitting all the features, that counted in his favour as he edged out Dutton for 2nd place. Canada’s Liam Roy was dominant with his technical rail riding, switch frontside’s, backflips and 360’s to take the overall. Being the top South African finisher, van Greunen took home the second Club Med prize for an all-inclusive snow holiday for two to Club Med Val Thorens.
Xperia Winter Whip organiser, Ryan van der Spuy said, “This year’s event was a huge feat and we cannot thank all those involved enough – from the athletes who continue to share their passion for the sport, judges who gave their time to score each run, the media who have helped spread the word, the medics onsite, Kapoko Park parkies and Afriski Resort who provided us with a top grade course and facilities, the spectators and our incredible sponsors. We have received such great support from our sponsors this year; Sony Mobile, Club Med, Red Bull, Skullcandy, Neff, Jägermeister, G-Form and Burton, all of whom helped to make the 2015 Xperia Winter Whip a great success”.
Celebrations went on late into the night at the Gondola Café with resident DJ Black Sparrow and a live performance from SDO.
2015 Xperia Winter Whip Results
1st Sean Irwin
2nd Jason Lammers
3rd Wesley Schallen
2nd Patrick Matula
3rd Karol Hierweg
1st Erin Nel
1st Mawa Jekot
2nd Martina Molnarva
3rd Vanessa Jackson
1st Liam Roy
2nd Dean van Greunen
3rd Luke Dutton