Homegrown snow-sport heroes Jossi Wells and Hamish McDougall were among the top qualifiers for the finals in the men's slopestyle event at the North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand.
The Wanaka stars soared in calm and sunny conditions at Cardrona Alpine Resort during the qualifying rounds yesterday.
A 35-strong field of New Zealand and international competitors were split into two heats and completed two-run qualifying rounds, with the top four scorers from each heat plus the next four highest scores overall making the cut for tomorrow's final.
Wells was the top qualifier in heat 1 and the UK's James ''Woodsy'' Woods top qualifier in heat 2.
The slopestyle course consisted of three rails at the top and three jumps at the bottom. The multiple rail options gave riders plenty of opportunity to show technical and creative flair.
Wells put down a clean first run, demonstrating impressive technique on the rail features and finishing off with a stylish switch left side double cork 10 on the final jump for a score of 82.0 to put him in the lead in heat 1.
His second run was better still, earning him a score of 83.7 to assure him of his place in the finals.
''There was only one job to do today and that was to put down clean runs and qualify for finals. I did what I needed to do today; tomorrow I'll take it up a notch,'' Wells said.
McDougall came in hot on Jossi's heels with a second-run score of 83.00 for second place in the heat and the promise of a hard-fought battle for today's finals.
Wanaka 14-year-old wonder kid, Finn Bilous was a surprise performer, pulling out a score of 82.0 with his first run, high enough to take him through to finals third in his heat and fifth overall.
New Zealander Harry Pettit and two more members of the Wells gang, Jackson and Beau-James also made the final
Competition continues at Cardrona Alpine Resort today, with the men's and women's slopestyle finals.
Halfpipe qualifiers and finals will be held tomorrow.
- The Southland Times