Copper Mountain, USA (17 December 2016) – The Cardrona NZ Park & Pipe Team has today wrapped up a week of World Cup competition at Copper Mountain resort in the USA with several athletes achieving personal best results and ticking off qualifying criteria for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
The first full park and pipe team outing within the Olympic qualifying period, the week saw 14 Kiwi athletes – some seasoned campaigners and others making World Cup debuts - competing in Snowboard and Freeski Halfpipe and Snowboard Big Air.
Inspired by NZ ski cross racer Jamie Prebble’s fifth place at the World Cup in Switzerland earlier this week, the park and pipe contingent pushed hard to achieve their personal goals.
Three NZ athletes made it through qualifying rounds and achieved top six results in the finals. Byron Wells (Wanaka) just missed out on a podium, finishing fourth in men’s freeski halfpipe with Miguel Porteous (Christchurch), landing a solid sixth place finish at his first World Cup final. Janina Kuzma (Wanaka) finished fifth in the women’s freeski halfpipe finals.
After nine months off rehabbing a shoulder injury Byron Wells says he is “really happy to be back on skis and in the halfpipe.” He took a strategic approach to Thursday’s qualifying rounds: “my plan was to land a run that was good enough for finals without putting too much pressure on myself as it’s been nine months since I did it last. Then it was time to step it up in finals.”
While just missing out on a podium finish, Byron says he is “pretty happy to come away with fourth for the first comp of the year.”
Miguel Porteous was “really stoked to have made finals” for the first time at a World Cup. “Today seemed to be my day, I had a great training session and the pipe was riding perfectly,” he reported after the qualifying rounds. “I just tried really hard to keep it clean and do all my tricks with big amplitude.”
With his qualifying run locked in: left side double 900, right side 720, switch 720, right double 900, finishing with a left 900, Miguel couldn’t wait for finals day. At first, things did not seem to be going his way with crashes on the first two of his three runs. However, holding his nerve, and sticking with the tried and tested combo, Miguel got the third run down clean and was “really happy to end up in sixth place.”
Janina also took a strategic approach to her first competition of the season.
“Qualifying went well and I stuck to the game plan, putting down a run that would get me through to finals and focusing on clean execution of tricks and good solid grabs.
“It’s exciting to see the whole team doing well,” she said.
Career best results also came from young up and coming snowboarders Zoi Sadowski Synnott (Wanaka) and Tiarn Collins (Queenstown) who competed in the Big Air event.
Tiarn (17) finished in 17th place in a stacked field which featured all the big names of the sport, including World Cup leader Mark McMorris (CAN), spinning wonder Marcus Kleveland (NOR) and two-time world champion Roope Tonteri (FIN).
“This is my best result yet in a Big Air competition and I’m super stoked on how the day went!” says Tiarn. “I put down my first run clean with a back double 12 melon then for my second run I decided to do another back double 12 but with a deeper landing. I stomped my second run and got a score of 81.66 which was good enough for 17th but not quite finals (top 10). I’m excited to compete again and even more motivated to do better at the next comp!”
If fifteen-year old Zoi Sadowski Synnott found her first World Cup Big Air event “nerve wracking”, her performance certainly didn’t give her away. Lining up beside such sporting legends as the USA’s Jamie Anderson – one of the most medalled athletes in the history of the sport – the Kiwi teenager was “over the moon” to finish in ninth place. “I was just so hyped to get a double wildcat down on my first run and then clean it up with a longer grab on my second run. It was also so cool to have so many New Zealanders there representing and supporting.”
Also competing in Copper Mountain were:
In terms of qualifying for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea, athletes will in turn need to meet qualification, nomination and selection criteria set by the International Ski Federation (FIS), Snow Sports NZ, and finally the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
FIS eligibility criteria for Snowboard and Freeski Halfpipe and Snowboard Big Air requires an athlete to achieve one top 30 World Cup result and 50 FIS points in the qualifying period.
Full results from Copper Mountain World Cups are available here:
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