Africa’s one and only slopestyle event, the Xperia Winter Whip Snowboard and Ski Jam, took place Saturday, 6 August 2016 at Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho. The event, which is organised annually by LW Mag, brings together Snowboarders and Skiers from all around South Africa and Lesotho to compete and promote snow sports on the continent. This year’s event also saw a riders from the United States and Canada participating.
Heavy snowfall a week prior to the competition gave the Kapoko Park crew the opportunity to build the biggest Winter Whip slopestyle course to date. The course consisted of five platforms with the first three providing a mix of rail, stair and box features. The fourth platform introduced the first big kicker and Ugandan Up Rail, with the final platform, dubbed by the judges as the Xperia Money Booter, comprising of the biggest kicker on course and undoubtedly the biggest kicker in the competition’s three-year history.
As always, the Open Men division was highly contested and featured progressive riding from all competitors. Vishaylin Mahadeo progressed throughout the jam, hitting the whole park and leaving a good overall impression on the judges to see him take 3rd for his first podium finish. The 2nd place step went to Jason Lammers, 2014 winner and 2015 runner up, who was as competitive as ever with solid runs that included big amplitude and awesome transfers. First time entrant, Storm Andrews wowed the judges with great use of the park, as well as a 180 on to 180 off the butter box and big grabs over the kickers to secure his place on the top step and take home the Club Med prize consisting of an all-inclusive snow holiday for two to Club Med Val Thorens in France.
The Ski division saw a number of new entrants this year, but it was JTK again who dominated the field. Huge Backflips, Frontflips and a Misty 720 safeguarded his win and title once again. Tredoux Willemse and Christiaan Willemse battled it out for the final two podium positions, both with great rail lines and 180 attempts. When it came down to the points it was Tredoux who finished in 2nd ahead of Christiaan in 3rd.
One of main reasons for holding an event like this is to showcase progression, and bring new blood into the sport. This year’s Junior division saw the most amount of entries since the start of the competition in 2014, proving that snow sports in Africa is heading in the right direction.
Alex Steven, a first time entrant, put on a great performance Boardsliding the Flat to Down box, hitting the big gaps and going upside down to finish in 3rd. Last year’s winner, Erin Nel, was riding better than ever before with style on the rails and big jumps, as well as hitting the Ugandan Up Rail to claim 2nd. 13 year old, Ethan Terblanche blew away the field by nailing Frontside 360’s and Backflips over the kickers, which saw him take a dominant win. “We were so impressed with Ethan’s riding that we also scored him in the Pro Men division, where he placed with an impressive 5th place,” says Xperia Winter Whip organiser, Ryan van der Spuy.
In the Ladies division it was multiple title-holder, Mawa Jekot that walked away with the overall win. Jekot played it safe in the beginning with solid and steezy runs, but mixed things up during the end of the jam by hitting to the more technical rails showing progression in her riding. 11 year old, Erin Nel stepped up to enter the Ladies division this year and it paid off, her stylish and solid riding saw her finish in a respectable 2nd place. Tayla De Beer hit some solid big gaps to take home a well-deserved 3rd place in her first competition.
The Pro Men division was just insane this year with hugely competitive runs from the division’s top scorers. Dean Van Greunen put down some huge runs, which included Front and Backflip combos and stylish Frontside and Backside 360’s, but his rail game let him down in the points and he finished in 3rd place. It was a race for first between Luke Dutton and Andrew Le Roux. Dutton’s style was rock-solid with Front Lips down the Handrail, a Frontflip onto the Butter Box, huge airs and two attempts at a Double Frontflip over the Xperia Money Booter. Le Roux impressed the judges by doing a Regular run and then doing the same run Switch. He also had Frontside 720 Indy grabs, Cab 540’s and Frontside 360’s with grabs on lock. When it came down to the points, Dutton had to settle for 2nd and Le Roux that took home 1st. Last year’s Pro Men division winner, Liam Roy finished in 4th, attempting huge Double Backflips, unfortunately just not able to land them.
Le Roux’s win also sees him take the Club Med prize consisting of an all-inclusive snow holiday for two to Club Med Val Thorens in France.
To finish off the day, the Method Madness presented by Red Bull took place off the bottom kicker. Method Madness was a half hour jam session to see who could pull off the biggest, steeziest Method grab. It was a good run for the win between Matthew Amoretti, Dale Andrews, Wesley Schallen, Luke Dutton and Dean Van Greunen, but it was Van Greunen who claimed victory and took home the R5,000.00 cash prize.
Ryan van der Spuy commented, “This year’s event was better than ever and we cannot thank all those involved enough – from the athletes who continue to share their passion for the sport, to the judges who gave their time to score each run, the media who have helped spread the word, the medics onsite, Kapoko Park crew 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, Ogio and Jägermeister, all of whom helped to make the 2016 Xperia Winter Whip a great success”.
Red bull provided the vibes on the slope throughout the day, Jägermeister kicked off the apes ski party and celebrations went on late into the night at the Gondola Café with resident DJ Black Sparrow and a live performance from The Snowcones.
Xperia Winter Whip 2016 Results
1st Storm Andrews
2nd Jason Lammers
3rd Vishaylin Mahadeo
2nd Tredoux Willemse
3rd Christiaan Willemse
1st Ethan Terblanche
2nd Erin Nel
3rd Alex Steven
1st Mawa Jekot
2nd Erin Nel
3rd Tayla De Beer
1st Andrew Le Roux
2nd Luke Dutton
3rd Dean van Greunen
Method Madness – Dean van Greunen
Photos by LW Mag, Jason May and MGP