New Zealand snowboarder Carlos Garcia Knight has produced a stunning performance today to qualify top for the Winter Olympics Big Air final in PyeongChang.

The Christchurch 20-year-old, who finished fifth in the slopestyle discipline early in the Games, turned on a spectacular leap at his second attempt to record a 97.5 mark from the judges.

Lining up in the second group of qualifiers, that exceeded the 92.5 of top first group qualifier, Canadian Max Parrott, and the 96.0 from Swiss competitor Jonas Boesiger in Garcia Knight's group.

Boesiger's effort turned out to be the second top score overall, with Canadian Mark McMorris third with 95.75.

Advertisement

From the time he landed - second off in the second group of qualifiers - there was no doubt Garcia Knight would walk into the top 12 final.

But as the other athletes came and fell short, Knight's stocks soared and he will line up last in Saturday's final and have a royal chance of claiming just the second Winter Olympic medal for New Zealand, after slalom skier Annelise Coberger's celebrated silver at Albertville, France in 1992.

Take it a step further and Garcia Knight has the chance to be the inaugural winner of an event new to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Garcia Knight produced a tidy 88.75 with his first attempt which had him fifth. But that still only had him on the bubble mark to advance to the final with the top six from each group progressing.

So he opted to repeat the same move with his second run, but polishing it along the way, and it worked a treat with the judges.

Garcia Knight produced four and a half spins on his first attempt and the judges clearly took a shine to his second leap.

Top six in the group? No worries on that score, as it turned out.

"To be up the top is surreal. I'm still buzzing," Garcia Knight said. "It's the best qualifying event in Big Air history."

He confirmed his second run was about improving on the first. It was a run he admitted "had a lot going on".

"The first run was a bit messy so we cleaned it up and did it the best I could.

"I had nothing to lose really. I felt like I've done well at the Olympics so wanted to go out and let it loose really.

"I wanted to do something I was proud of and something that looked good and felt good. I did it the best I've ever done it."

Tomorrow will be another training day when Garcia Knight will work on a second trick.

The final consists of three runs and he expects it to be "super exciting".