This past Sunday saw the Hotzone.tv Groms Open go down under epic bluebird conditions in the Vans Penken Park, Mayrhofen. The competition, open to young rippers under the age of 18, offers up and coming groms a chance to try their hand at competitive snowboarding and to compete against riders of a similar age for cash, pride and perhaps most importantly: fun. Competitors were a mixed bunch, hailing from Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Russia and of course the UK, to throw down.
The slopestyle course was shaped to perfection by Sven Toller and his crew and heavy snowfall over the previous two nights ensured that there was plenty of snow up top to work with. The course consisted of a rail/down box option followed by a 12m kicker and a 14m kicker - pretty freakin' sizeable then! After a one hour jam session, the judges narrowed down the field to the top eight riders for the finals. Austrian Philipp Kundratitz went through in poll position after stomping frontside 7's, backside 7's and a backside 9.
However, he was ultimately no match for young British rookie Rowan Coultas who, following a second place finish at last year's event (and a win in the under 16's category) came out on top with a 270 to front board, a frontside inverted 5 on the first jump and a cab 9 melon on the second. 14-year-old Maximilian Preissinger from Bavaria walked away in second and also won the title of “Best Grom“ with a run consisting of a blunt slide 270 out, cab 5 and backside 9. Third place went to Vladislav Khadarin from Russia who put down a backside 50/50, backside 7 and frontside 9. Unlucky fourth place went to Austrian Roland Tschoder who wasn't quite able to improve on his result in the 2011 edition of the comp. Kaja Verdnik from Slovenia took first place in the girls category, right ahead of her rival and teammate Eva Kralj.
The prize giving was held just alongside the park with the successful riders sharing a prize pot of €1000. Rowan also earned himself a wild card invitation to the World Rookie Fest in Ischgl as well as some outerwear from Vans.
Overall this is a tidy result for Rowan and hopefully just one of many more to come. To be fair, after witnessing the sheer size of some of the kickers this kid is already hitting it's certainly not a long shot...
For full results from the Groms Open, head here: www.gromsopen.com