Competitors brought their A game to the finals of the FIS Australia New Zealand Cup freeski halfpipe presented by Cardrona Alpine Resort at the QRC Winter Games NZ, fuelled by Forsyth Barr today.
The judges had their work cut out for them all day long with competitors pushing their limits to earn their spot on the podium. Halfpipe judging criteria is based on trick variety, difficulty and execution as well as the amplitude a competitor can gain above the wall of the 22ft high pipe.
The skiers were the first to drop in to superpipe with the 10 men and eight women each taking three runs and their top score deciding the final results.
Top qualifier Jaxin Hoerter (USA) held the lead for the first two runs but run three turned out to be the decider for the top step on the podium. Cassidy Jarrell (USA) was the first to challenge for top honours, the technical difficulty of his back to back doubles and huge amplitude edging his score just above his countryman.
“I’ve never done that combination of tricks before in a competition and to get it on the first try was unreal. That was something really special for me,” said Cassidy.
Next came China’s Bingqiang Mao, coming back from a crash on his left double 1260 on the first hit of his second run, getting the trick down clean on run three and jumping in to first place.
Last to drop in for run three, Jaxin looked like he might be able to claim back the top ranking, going for a left alley oop double flat 720 but couldn’t execute and finished his day in third, Cassidy in second and Bingqiang taking the win.
In the women’s freeski field, top qualifier Eileen Gu (CHN) had victory in her sights right from her very first run with a score of 88.00. Valeriya Demidova (RUS), second place qualifier, was once again hot on Eileen’s heels, lifting her first run score of 85.00 to 86.66 on run two but couldn’t match the Chinese athlete on technical difficulty or amplitude and would finish her day in second place.
“This is the first time I’ve skied pipe since December so every time in the pipe is about going as hard as I can and having fun. I’m just very happy,” said 15-year-old Eileen after the competition.
Zoe Atkin (GBR) put down a solid second run, incorporating a tidy switch combo in the middle, to land herself in third place.
1. Eileen Gu (CHN) – Right 540 lead tail, Left 540 Japan, Right 720 safety, Switch left 720 Japan, Left alley oop 180 safety.
2. Valeriya Demidova (RUS) – Left alley oop 180 seatbelt, Left flair safety, Right 540 mute, Left 540 mute, Right 720 safety, Switch right alley oop 540.
3. Zoe Atkin (GBR) –Right 540 safety, Left 720 mute, Switch right 540, Switch left 540, Switch right 360 tail.
1. Bingqiang Mao (CHN) - Left double 1260 safety, Right 1080 tail, Switch left 720 Japan, Right 900 tail, Left flat 540 Japan.
2. Cassidy Jarrell (USA) - Right 900 tail, Left 1080 tail, Switch right double 1080, Left double 1260.
3. Jaxin Hoerter (USA) - Left flair tail, Right 720 lead tail grab, Switch left 720 mute, Right 900 Japan, Left 900 truck driver.
Source: Winter Games NZ