Lake Wanaka, NZ (22 August 2012) - The first event of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic qualifying period took place under perfect ‘bluebird’ conditions at Cardrona Alpine Resort with the FIS World Cup Halfpipe event for freestyle skiers.
Brothers Wells took a strong command of proceedings in qualifying with Jossi and Byron making it through to finals while Beau-James, at age 16, just missed out finishing a very creditable 14th.
“Byron was happy to be back in top-flight action, boosting 17 feet and landing his first double-cork 1260 in competition,” said NZ’s head park and pipe coach Tom Willmott. “Unfortunately he aggravated his knee and made the smart decision to pull out of the finals despite looking good for the podium – Byron is well aware that it is the long-game that is the important one, accepting a 12th place finish.”
In the women’s event, Janina Kuzma better known for her exploits on the extreme mountain faces of the freeride world tour had a few bobbles in her qualifying runs, but also made it through to finals. Kuzma saved her best run of the day until last and ended up just off the podium in fourth place – a career best result for her in halfpipe at the elite level.
Finals time and Jossi Wells played it safe in his first run and pushed a little too hard in his second, but netted valuable Olympic qualifying points finishing in seventh place.
“We are excited that the Olympic qualifying period has started and that the Kiwi contingent have had strong performances on the home turf,” said Willmott.
The Snowboarders are up next with their World Cup on this weekend, followed by an extensive training period through September and October.
“Our freeski and snowboard athletes will be looking to build their Olympic podium capability by making use of the excellent training facilities in the Southern Lakes region before heading overseas in November for the Northern Hemisphere winter,” said Willmott.