SNOWBOARD Preview: World Cup season is here, with Big Air coming in Cardrona!

Defending Big Air champ Chris Corning (USA) returns to Cardrona this weekend!

Believe it or not, the first FIS Snowboard World Cup competition of the 2019-20 season coming Saturday and Sunday in the New Zealand resort of Cardrona with a Big Air event for men and women.

This is the third year that a World Cup event has been held as part of the Winter Games NZ program, with Snowboard Halfpipe and Slopestyle in 2017 and Big Air for Snowboard and Freestyle in 2018.

The U.S. will be out in force, with defending Cardrona Big Air champ Chris Corning on the slopes, as well as 2018 Olympic Slopestyle gold medalist Red Gerard. They both competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Big Air event, with Corning fourth and Gerard fifth. Corning won the world title in Slopestyle last February in home snow in Utah.

“I am excited to be back in New Zealand,” said Corning. “I hope to bring home a win again. The jump is usually pretty great and if the weather holds out it should be a good contest. Being in a contest after the summer can always be more nerve-wracking than one in the middle of the season, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Corning won at Cardrona in 2018 over Japan’s Takeru Otsuka, who eventually won the World Cup Big Air title. The final leaders:

1. 2,600 Takeru Otsuka (JPN)
2. 2,090 Chris Corning (USA)
3. 1,400 Kalle Jarvilehto (FIN)
4. 1,340 Clemens Millauer (AUT)
5. 1,045 Ruki Tobita (JPN)

The women’s Big Air winners in Cardrona last year turned out to be the top three in the seasonal standings: Japan’s Reira Iwabuchi and Miyabi Onitsuka, followed by Slovakia’s Klaudia Medlova. The final seasonal leaders:

1. 2,400 Reira Iwabuchi (JPN)
2. 2,400 Miyabi Onitsuka (JPN)
3. 1,800 Klaudia Medlova (SVK)
4. 1,600 Anna Gasser (AUT)
5. 1,400 Laurie Blouin (CAN)

Sunday’s Cardrona finals will be shown on NBC’s Olympic Channel on Saturday evening (Eastern time) at 8 p.m. Look for results here.