19 Aug 2015

Searching for that mountain high

1:03 pm on 19 August 2015

Ahead of the Winter Games, we hear from Carlos Garcia Knight, one of New Zealand’s top snowboarders.

Carlos Garcia Knight doesn’t particularly stand out if you see him on the street.

He’s tall, scrawny and just a regular looking 18-year-old. Unless you’ve been actively looking, you probably haven’t seen his rise as one of New Zealand’s top ranked slopestyle snowboarders.

The Winter Games, which kick off on Friday, will see some of the biggest names in the world of snow sports descend on Wanaka. The biannual event is a strong stepping stone to the Winter Olympics, where Carlos wants to take his talents.

On a crisp winter morning recently, Carlos and his coach Sean Thompson were hard at work practicing in the Cardrona terrain park.

Carlos is trying out a combination of moves on the two largest jumps, trying out his frontside 1080 to backside double cork 1080.

Essentially, it means spinning around three times in one direction over a 40-foot jump, then a couple of seconds later spinning three times in the other direction. He’ll also need to flip twice off the next 50-foot jump.

After a couple of tries, it all comes together perfectly. It takes repetition to learn.

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Photo: Riley Bathurst

As the day wears on, Carlos begins to struggle with speed. Multiple times he lands slightly short, which puts him in a very dangerous situation.

What’s causing his issue is a small segment sitting out on the base of his board, dragging barely a millimetre into the snow. It’s not enough to feel, but it will prevent him from putting a perfect run together.

He’ll have to get it right to be competitive.

Riding against the best of the best is something Carlos has experienced before. Last winter he led his team to victory in the Burton High Fives competition, but the Winter Games is an individual event and everything is on him to succeed.

The next morning, Carlos is riding even stronger, contorting his body effortlessly into rotations and over obstacles. On each chairlift ride back, he describes a trick that felt good or bad and Sean will suggest something small to work on.

Carlos adjusts the tiniest details to make sure he gets what he wants from each feature of his snowboard.

It’s a good sign for the upcoming competitions, but he still wants more. He has a game plan involving a combination he has never done and it might not be until comp day that he has the chance to try it.

“I’d really like to do well in this contest,” he says.

“It’s on my home turf and stomping ground so it’ll be cool to show everyone that Kiwis have got it as well.”

Video shot and edited by Riley Bathurst.

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