Athletes were greeted blue skies and wide views over the Wakatipu Basin for the start of the Alpine Ski Racing technical events with the FIS ANC Giant Slalom presented by Coronet Peak.
Headlining the Giant Slalom events was local Queenstown hero Alice Robinson and Sam Maes of Belgium.
The day heralded a stacked start list for both the men and women with many World Cup athletes in attendance as they head into the final leg of their Southern Hemisphere training blocks.
Set on the same course as the Super G events held earlier in the week, 36 women and 86 men made the most of the mornings firm snow conditions on The Hurdle to set up a thrilling showdown between some of the world’s best technical ski racers on the first of two days of Giant Slalom racing which contribute to the overall standings for the Australia New Zealand (ANC) Cup.
Junior World Champion kiwi Alice Robinson backed up her double win at the Super G events on Tuesday 27 August, with an overall second place today. Robinson is looking forward to another day of Giant Slalom racing tomorrow.
The women’s race was a triumphant conclusion to a two year injury lay off for University of Denver senior, Storm Klomhaus as her form pushed Robinson into second and winner of the Winter Games NZ Night Parallel Slalom Maryna Gasiencia-Daniel (Poland) into third.
“I’m not known for finishing courses. In my last season of racing before injuring my knee (two years ago) I didn’t make a finish in 32 races so I’m just so happy to be out here and skiing again. You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone,” said Klomhaus.
The bright sun brought a mix of snow conditions to the 1060m long course proving a challenge for racers to adapt to in the second run.
“It was a fun course today. The snow was a little softer and ran a little slower this afternoon than this morning”, said Alice Robinson of the rapidly changing snow.
The depth of the men’s field was apparent with many starters boasting low FIS (international ranking points) contributing to a day of close racing with the top sixteen being within one second of each other. Sam Maes (Belgium) backed up his top seeding position for the event winning by 0.32 seconds over Magnus Walsh of Austria.
A member of Team Global Racing, “It’s just great having my team mate Magnus (Walsh) in second. It’s always good to grab a win and perfect confidence knowing that you’re skiing fast and can win a race in a very strong field”, stated an elated Maes.
Adam Zampa (Slovakia) rounded out the men’s podium taking third a mere four one hundredths of a second back from Walsh.
New Zealand’s Willis Feasey made the most of an early start position to ski within one second of the lead to finish seventh after the first run. Unable to back up his first run efforts he claimed the Peter Small-Smith Trophy for the top finishing New Zealand male (24th); Alice Robinson was awarded the Janey Blair Memorial Trophy for being the fastest finishing New Zealand female.
Alpine Ski Racing continues at Coronet Peak with the Giant Slalom and Slalom events Friday 31st August – Monday 2nd September. The complete Alpine Ski Racing schedule can be viewed at https://wintergamesnz.kiwi/sports/alpine/
Full results from the Alpine Ski Racing Giant Slalom events can be found at https://vola-publish.com/snowsportsnz/