January 17 - A 432-strong field of the world's best snowboarders are gearing up to compete across six different events at the 10th International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard World Championships, which gets underway today with the slopestyle qualifiers in Stoneham and Québec City, Canada.
Almost every title defender will compete at the event, including Finland's Enni Rukajärvi and Belgian Seppe Smits (pictured top) in the slopestyle, Australians Holly Crawford and Nathan Johnstone in the halfpipe, Petja Piiroinen of Finland in the big air, Australia's Alex Pullin in the snowboard cross, and race boarders Austrian Benjamin Karl, Hilde-Katrine Engeli of Norway and Russia's Alena Zavarzina.
Other athletes in the field, represented 46 nations, will be Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic champions Torah Bright, the Australian who took gold in the halfpipe, Canada's Jasey-Jay Anderson parallel race star, and snowboard cross gold-medallists Canadian Maëlle Ricker and American Seth Wescott.
The ten-day tournament course is slightly different to the previous World Cups staged in Québec, with the slopestyle now taking place on the same slope as the parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom as it delivers more space and better inclination to create the speed that allows jumps of a larger dimension.
Meanwhile, the course design of the snowboard cross event features a longer stretch to provide riders with higher speed and longer airtime for jumps, while more space has been allocated for better passing.
The halfpipe was also extended to allow every rider a minimum of five hits in his run and a better trick variety.
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