Kiwis shine on their home mountain at The North Face Frontier 4* competition, led by an all New Zealand podium in the Men’s Ski Category, and a final tally of seven medals including three golds.
New Zealand skiers made a statement to the world on their home mountain, with Hank Bilous taking top spot followed by compatriots Sam Lee, who was the 2016 champion in second place and Matthew Sweet in third.
“I think with a full New Zealand podium it just shows the home town advantage," said Bilous. "It’s such a great field of guys so for us to come out with a Kiwi top three I think shows the benefit of skiing this area so much.”
Matthew Sweet who was riding in his first senior competition after progressing through the junior ranks also highlighted just how much a Kiwi podium meant to him riding in his first 4* event.
“It’s so good knowing that the Kiwi boys can hang with the rest of the world," he said.
The great performances didn’t stop there for the Kiwis, with Jessica Hotter backing up her impressive run in the 2* to take second place behind Laia Castellarnau Plaza of Spain who continued her impressive form in the category making it first in both the 2* and 4*. Rounding out the podium was yet another New Zealander, Wanaka's Anna Smoothy.
The Kiwis also featured on the podium in the Snowboard categories with Roland Morley-Brown and Maria Kuzma taking gold in the men’s and women’s categories respectively. The win was somewhat of a homecoming for Kuzma.
“It means a lot to be here, because I haven’t been in New Zealand for two years," said Kuzma. "Being part of the Audi quattro Winter Games, it just makes the competition that much more prestigious and taking first places means that much more”.
The win caught Roland Morley-Brown a little off guard.
“I didn’t come into the event with that as a goal or expectation, I just had fun and took it as it came and it all worked out!” he said.
Head Judge Dion Newport was delighted with the event, following some challenging weather patterns earlier in the week.
“The North Face Frontier continues to prove that it is a top three qualifier in the world, which is shown by the strong international turnout," said Newport. "It also cements the head-start athletes can get on the Freeride World Qualifier Tour. The Kiwis showed they know how to ski our conditions, by dominating the strongest field we have seen. It was one of the most outstanding snowboard displays we have seen, and the skiers charged as they always do."
1st – Hank Bilous (NZL)
2nd – Sam Lee (NZL)
3rd – Matthew Sweet (NZL)
1st – Laia Castellarnau Plaza (ESP)
2nd – Jessica Hotter (NZL)
3rd – Anna Smoothy (NZL)
1st – Maria Kuzma (NZL)
2nd – Manuela Mandl (AUT)
3rd – Nuria Castán Barón (ESP)
1st – Roland Morley-Brown (NZL)
2nd – Christopher Galvin (USA)
3rd – Stephen Denmark (USA)