New Zealand was in the limelight at the Winter Games when Paralympian Adam Hall took out the gold in the men's standing slalom and team-mate Corey Peters won silver in the sitting slalom at the IPC Adaptive World Cup slalom at Coronet Peak yesterday.
The event was one of two back-to-back World Cup slaloms being staged at the event and attracted a top field of athletes from around the world chasing qualification points for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.
Forty-two men and women competed in the challenging event on the Rocky Gully Race Arena which was divided into three categories - slalom visually impaired, slalom standing and slalom sitting.
Hall said he was pleased to be able to win gold in his own backyard.
"I'm particularly excited to win the Winter Games NZ title. It is great to have the opportunity to ski at home and it was a world-class course. It was bit of a rodeo ride in the first run but the second improved. I still have a lot of work to do heading to Sochi but it's good to be under way for the season," he said.
The women's visually impaired title went to No 12 in the world, Staci Mannella and guide Kim Seevers, of the United States, in 2.01.11 edging out team-mate Danielle Umstead, ranked 8th, and guide Robert Umstead in 2.02.69. Third place went to the world No 5, the British team of Jade Etherington and guide Caroline Powell in 2.09.22.
The women's slalom standing title was won by Melanie Schwartz, ranked No 16, who skis on the World Cup circuit and was the torch bearer for the last Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver.
She put on a strong showing to score a combined result of 1.59.79 ahead of Britain's Heather Mills, ranked 28th who clocked 2.09.09 to win the silver.
Mills joined the British Development Team in 2010 and has only recently taken up the technical discipline of slalom.
World No 4 Stephani Victor, of the US, was outstanding in both runs in the women's sitting event to win the title in 1.54.38, ahead of fellow American Laurie Stephens in 2.01.54.
Meanwhile, US athletes shone brightly under blue skies at Cardrona in FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup qualifying.
Kelly Clark and Gregory Bretz took out their heats and fellow Americans made up five of the 16 automatic qualifiers for tomorrow's final.
Liu Jiayu, of China, won the other women's heat with a score of 91.0 - just one point less than the score with which Clark won hers - and goes straight into the final with Gretchen Bleiler (US), Arielle Gold (US), Holly Crawford (Australia), Nadja Purtschert (Switzerland), Yuki Furihata (Japan) and Queralt Castellet (Spain).
The other men's heat winner, Japan's Ayumu Hirano, will be happy to sit out the men's semi with compatriots Taku Hiraoka and Ayumu Nedefuji plus Arthur Longo (US), Nathan Johnstone (Australia), Christian Haller (Switzerland) and Tayler Gold (US).
Those facing an intense semifinal competition include Switzerland's Iouri ‘I-Pod' Podladtchikov in the men's comp and New Zealand women's No 1 Bex Sinclair for whom this was a first competition since knee surgery.
At the men's curling tournament in Naseby, three playoff spots have been decided, with two full rounds to play.
The three countries in the field who will take part in December's eight-team Olympic qualifying event - Japan, Korea and New Zealand - will fill the top three places.
The last two rounds will determine the final rankings.
- The Southland Times