Freeskiers leave their best till last at Winter Games NZ

19 September 2013 04:27
The men and ladies on the Cardrona slopestyle podium
The men and ladies on the Cardrona slopestyle podium -
FIS/Oliver Kraus

CARDRONA, NZ, 25 AUG 2013 - The final competition at this year’s Audi quattro Winter Games NZ – the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup Slopestyle at Cardrona – saw some of the biggest and best tricks of the entire event. Norway’s Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen and Nick Goepper from USA won the women and men’s gold medals with breathtaking runs set against a backdrop of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
Only six athletes contested the women’s final after Eveline Bhend (SUI) and Anna Vincenti (GBR) did not start. The performance of 18-year-old Christiansen, however, was good enough to beat a field of hundreds as she went huge and landed smooth over Cardrona’s world-class slopestyle course. Dara Howell from Canada and Germany’s Lisa Zimmermann took silver and bronze respectively with best scores of 84.40 and 72.00.
Christiansen, landed a first run that scored 91.00 and featured a slide over the wall ride to switch lipside onto the down rail, frontside 450 off the canon rail then into the kicker line with a left 540 mute, switch right 900 tail and right 900 tail.
The margin remained big enough to ensure her second run became a glory lap as she was last to drop. Even then, it was clear there was more to come from her this season in the lead up to the Sochi Winter Olympics where freestyle skiing makes its debut: “Not my best but I’ve just got to train harder. I put down two solid runs so I’m stoked.”
James ‘Woodsy’ Woods of Great Britain led the men’s comp up until the very last run with his stellar first run score of 92.00. But the pride of Sheffield was trumped by Goepper, last season’s number one slopestyle skier on the AFP World Tour, who scored 94.00 with a spectacular run starting switch 360 to 180 over the wall ride to transfer frontside switch up to back 270 out on the downrail, hand drag 3 over the rainbow rail, a right double cork 1080 mute over the first kicker into left double cork 1260 tail on the second and finishing with a switch rightside double cork 900 screamin’.
Woods still just managed to edge out Australia’s Russ Henshaw into bronze and reverse their final AFP slopestyle standings from last season in this, the first FIS World Cup of this year.
Golden boy Goepper said he changed it up on his second run, adding another trick on the first jump: “I’m just insanely happy to be here – it’s really, really surreal and I didn’t even imagine this is how the day would go but I’m just happy to be down here in New Zealand. It’s one of my favourite places to be and I couldn’t be happier.”

Asked about the current level of freeskiing at Winter Games NZ and on the world circuit, he added: “Today was ridiculous. You’ve got to be learning new tricks in your down time. It’s so consistent; every guy out there is so smooth and so technical; it’s tough!”