Day nine of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2013 saw more bluebird skies at Cardrona for the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup Slopestyle qualifying. A total of 16 men and 8 women progressed to Sunday’s finals drawn mostly from the USA and Scandinavia. They include the reigning men and women’s overall champions on the AFP World Tour, American Gus Kenworthy and Tiril SjÃ¥stad Christiansen of Norway.
Both finals are must-see events with athletes looking to take their runs up a notch. The men’s final features the four best freeski slopestyle athletes in the world – Nick Goepper (USA), Russ Henshaw (AUS), James ‘Woodsy’ Woods (GBR) and Kenworthy – plus 11 of the top 20 from the 2012-13 AFP World Tour, reaffirming the Association of Freeskiing Professionals’ decision to award this Winter Games NZ event Platinum Level Sanctioning.
Kenworthy was consistently excellent scoring 91.20 and 86.20 on his two runs. Joining him and the rest of the top four in the men’s final are fellow Americans McRae Williams (who scored highest overall with 92.60), Lyman Currier and Willie Borm, Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut, Jesper Tjader and Oscar Wester, Norwegian skiers Per Kristian Hunder, Johan Berg and Oystein Braaten, Antti Ollila from Finland, Canada’s Noah Morrison and Benedikt Mayr from Germany.
Tiril SjÃ¥stad Christiansen was the first woman dropping in and immediately stamped her mark on the comp with a score of 89.00 that only she was able to beat with a stomping second run of 90.6. Lisa Zimmermann from Germany qualified second with 87.40 followed by USA’s Devin Logan who continued her great form after winning halfpipe gold on Saturday with a first run score of 81.40.
Other women qualifiers, in order of best scores, are Eveline Bhend (SUI), Dania Assaly (CAN), Maggie Voisin (USA), Dara Howell (CAN) and Anna Vincenti (GBR). New Zealand’s Anna Willcox-Silfverberg finished 19th from 22 skiers.
No Kiwi men made their final. Jossi and Beau-James Wells finished 9th and 27th respectively out of 28 skiers in heat two. Beau-James stuck both his runs and looked impressive but Jossi took a fall off the last kicker of his first run which he thought may have damaged his gear causing him to lose a ski half way through his second.
Byron Wells did not compete at the Games due to injury but the future looks bright for youngest brother, Jackson who finished his first ever World Cup event in the top half of heat one just weeks after turning 15, the minimum age for FIS World Cup competitors.
Head judge, Greg Tuscher said: “The course allowed most of the riders to put down some really good runs. It was a really high level; all the best riders were here. It’s a really good comp and the weather was nice so they could really express themselves.”
The Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2013 continues tomorrow (Saturday) with the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup semi-finals and finals at Cardrona. The Downtown Sessions festival continues with ‘Blues, Brews and BBQs’ from 10am-3pm at Remarkables Park’s Red Barn in Frankton (free entry) plus the Adventure Film Festival presented by Auckland Airport which has shifted venues for the weekend to the Lotto Village Queenstown. The second race of the Winter Games NZ cyclocross series, which includes the NZ National Championships alongside age group and ‘all-comers’ categories, takes place in Wanaka and there is entertainment, live music and medal ceremonies at the Lotto Villages in both towns.