Koreans and Americans were dominant among the medal winners at the International Paralympic Committee Alpine Skiing (IPCAS) Southern Hemisphere Cup giant slalom held during the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ at Coronet Peak near Queenstown today with one gold medal going to Australia and a silver placing to Great Britain.
The start of the event on the 28-gate Davies GS at the Rocky Gully Arena was delayed due to poor visibility and Winter Games NZ Alpine Manager Hannah Hazeldine said it was decided to reschedule the women’s event to follow the men due to issues with the conditions for competitors in the visually impaired category.
“As predicted the weather cleared into a beautiful day and we had a fantastic race with a good firm course for both the men and the women in all categories.”
It was a day of attrition for the top seeds in the sitting men’s category with world number two and favourite, Tyler Walker of the USA, coming out of the course and failing to complete the second run after putting in a best first run time of 46.51.
Earlier New Zealand hope Corey Peters, ranked fourth in the world in giant slalom and the Sochi 2014 giant slalom silver medallist, had gone out at the ninth gate on the first run.
“I had a new ski on today and it just seemed to wash out on me. But that’s racing and when you’re trying to go fast it’s a risk you take.”
Unranked Korean Sang Min Han, who podiumed in third place in yesterday’s IPCAS slalom, was a clear winner in the sitting giant slalom in 1.34.15 beating USA team member and world number 25 Joshua Elliott, who clocked 1.37.49 for the silver placing. Elliott already has an IPCAS giant slalom title under his belt this season and headed off Korea’s Chi Won Lee, ranked 29th, in 1.39.60.
In the men’s standing category Australian Paralympian Mitchell Gourley led the charge to convincingly win the gold medal in 1.29.70 with an on-the-edge performance.
“I was very close to coming out of the course on the last few gates but managed to keep my speed up to the finish.”
USA’s James Stanton, a Sochi Paralympian who finished third in yesterday’s slalom, took out the silver medal in 1.35.35 cutting out Great Britain’s James Whitley, who made his debut as a Paralympian at Sochi. He scored a time of 1.37.23 for third place.
The women’s visually impaired giant slalom saw world number four Jae Rim Yang of Korea, and her guide Un So Ri Ko win their second gold of the event, completing the course in a combined time of 1.43.43 to beat US Paralympian Danelle Umstead and her husband and guide Robert who placed second in 1.52.39.
The women’s standing category had US team mates Stephanie Jallen, world number four in giant slalom and Melanie Schwartz ranked 15th in the discipline, battling it out for first place. Jallen had the fastest first run time of 50.79 but fell in her second run completing the course in 1.06.01 for a combined time of 1.56.80. The result was not good enough to beat Schwartz’s two run time, just split seconds faster in 1.56.31.
USA’s Laurie Stephens, the world number three giant slalom specialist won the sitting women’s title in 1.49.04, her second gold medal of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 series.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 continues tomorrow (Wednesday) with day three of competition in the Games’ elite mixed doubles curling tournament at Maniototo International Curling Rink in Naseby, Central Otago. Qualification for the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Snowboard Big Air, originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been cancelled with all competitors going straight to finals on Sunday. Full results are available on the event website www.wintergamesnz.kiwi. The two downtown Games Villages in Queenstown and Wanaka are open daily from 3pm with live music and DJs, medal ceremonies, the Adventure Film Festival presented by GoPro and aprÃ©s ski hospitality.