Calgary’s Snow Rodeo brought professional snowboarders from all over the world last month to compete in the FIS World Cup in slopestyle and halfpipe events.
This year marks the third instalment of the event, which took place at Winsport from Feb. 6 to 12.
Athletes competing in the men’s and women’s events were looking to win cash prizes as well as points towards their world rankings and qualifications for the next Winter Olympics in 2026.
In the slopestyle competition, athletes ride down a course featuring obstacles such as rails, and several style of jumps. The athletes are judged based on the quality and amplitude of their airs, as well as the execution, difficulty and variety of the tricks they perform.
In the halfpipe, athletes compete on a 22-foot tall halfpipe where they were judged on the difficulty, variety, and execution of their tricks, as well as the height of their performed tricks.
This year, Canadian Darcy Sharpe took gold in the men’s slopestyle finals, and American athlete Julia Marino won gold in the women’s slopestyle.
Team Japan dominated the halfpipe competition with Hirano Ruka winning gold in the men’s competition and Ono Mitsuki winning gold in the women’s competition.
17-year-old Australian Olympic athlete Valentino Guseli competed in both events, placed second in the halfpipe finals and sixth in the slopestyle finals, and expressed his excitement to be competing in the event.
“Honestly, being a professional snowboarder is something that I’ve wanted to do in my life since I was probably around six or seven. And for that to finally be coming to fruition feels amazing,” Guseli said.
23-year-old American Brock Crouch finished seventh in the slopestyle competition and expressed his excitement to be competing in the Snow Rodeo and visiting Calgary for the first time
“It’s amazing. It’s so cool. I’m staying with some friends in a Airbnb, But my whole team is staying downtown and I’ve never been to Calgary before. So it’s cool to go down there every day and get some good food. It’s nice to do a contest right by a city,” says Crouch.
The weeklong event was a hit, drawing many Calgarians to Winsport to witness the world class snowboarding.
Communications specialist David Mackinnon said a lot of care went into putting on the event – which is a partnership between the governments of Canada, Alberta, and Tourism Calgary.
“Really, the biggest thing is we’re inspired by the snowboarding,” Mackinnon said. “It really comes down to what the athletes are doing and it’s so incredible. We just want to give a proper stage for it. Also, give people in Canada the chance to fall in love with the sport.”