USA free skiers shine in Olympics qualifier
US free skiers Torin Yater-Wallace and Devin Logan dominated the men's and women's halfpipe at the Winter Games at Cardrona yesterday.
Skiers from 24 countries dropped into the massive 165-metre long halfpipe to kick off a freestyle International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup as part of the Winter Games.
The ski and snowboard freestyle event was also the first opportunity for competitors to qualify for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
Yater-Wallace, 16, won with a 93-point score in the men's section, while Logan, 19, scored 83.2.
Head judge Spence Steele said the panel was impressed with the execution and amplitude of Yater-Wallace's winning run.
“The pipe skiing was phenomenal,” he said.
Thomas Krief and Benoit Valentin, both of France, landed a 90-point and 84.2-point score to win second and third respectively.
Wanaka-based Jossi Wells was seventh and his brother, Byron, was 12th.
In the women's section, Manami Mitsuboshi, of Japan, was second with 80 points and Ayana Onozuka, also of Japan, was third with 78.6 points. New Zealand skier Janina Kuzma, of Wanaka, was fourth.
Winter Games chief executive Arthur Klap said he was extremely pleased with the event, not only the first qualifying event of next year's New Zealand games but the first Winter Olympic 2014 event in any sport.
‘'The competition was of a super-high standard. It's a really good thing for the sport to get the first of the qualifiers here in New Zealand. From a halfpipe free-ski point of view it's the first event here that's leading into an Olympics."
The Olympic-grade halfpipe is 165 metres long, 18 metres from wall to wall with a slope of 17 degrees.
A specialist team shifted 20,000 cubic metres of snow to build the structure.
Snowboard halfpipe qualifiers will be held on Saturday with the semifinals and finals on Sunday.
The Southland Times