“If the riders go three metres up in the air right now they’ll end up in Wanaka!” said head judge Ola Sundequist
From which you will have gathered that the winds were extremely strong on the day of the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup Halfpipe final, part of 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.
The semi-finals were cancelled in the morning due to the strong northerlies which made conditions too dangerous for the high amplitude of jumps that were anticipated during the competition.
Notwithstanding this, Liu Jiayu of China and American legend Shaun White of the USA eventually blew the field apart taking gold with heart-stopping displays at Cardrona’s Olympic halfpipe.
Liu took victory with her first run that finished with a front-7 to a cab-7 scoring 44.1, nearly nine points ahead of her closest rival. American Kelly Clark came good to grab silver with the best second run of 40.5, while consistent quality from compatriot Gretchen Bleiler secured bronze with 37.1.
Shaun White easily took control of the men’s competition with his first score of 47.1. However, superb perfomances came from Iouri Podladtchikov from Switzerland with a storming display scoring 44.4 for Silver and Kazuhiro Kokubo gave his vocal Japanese fans plenty to cheer about with 43.2 and Bronze.
What is exciting for this sport is that it is continually expanding its creativeness. You think that every trick possible has now been explored, attempted and conquered, but this is not the case with top performers pulling new tricks out of the hat on a regular basis.
As Ola Sundequist said when summing up the action: “It turned out to be a fantastic day which I wouldn’t have believed this morning. The women’s result was closer and exciting to the end. Shaun White won because of amplitude off the jumps, level of difficulty and the fact that he’s creating new tricks. We haven’t seen that in the sport for a few years. What we’ve witnessed at Winter Games NZ here today clearly demonstrates the progression being made by both men and women.”
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continues tomorrow (August 27) with skier cross at Cardrona, men’s giant slalom at Coronet Peak and curling at Naseby.
At the same time the Super G was successfully completed, but the adaptive skiers were not so fortunate and their race had to be cancelled due to the high winds which affected the erection of safety netting.
Not entirely sucessfully… poor Ganong was forced to have a re-run after being literally blown out of the course on his first run by a strong gust of wind!
It was a head-to-head clash in the women’s event between third seed 29-year-old Britt Janyk , Canada, and 23-year-old Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden. Jaynk managed to claim the gold medal when she clocked 1.04.74, a mere quarter of a second ahead of Pietilae-Holmner who crossed the finish in 1.04.98. Third place went to Jaynk’s team mate 22-year-old Shona Rubens in 1.05.01.
The men’s race was even tighter than the women’s but American Jake Zamansky 28, confidently grabbed the men’s title with a blistering run in 1.03.26 edging out Felix Neureuther 25 of Germany who stopped the clock at 1.03.64. Twenty-one-year-old Olivier Jenot of Monaco completed the tight finish finishing in third in 1.03.73 only a split ahead of Travis Ganong of USA in 1.03.74.
Zamansky, who has recently returned to the US team, was ecstatic about the race. “It was awesome, not too rounded and the conditions were great,” he said.
The following video (east2daweside) is from the Burton Creek competition just before the NZ Winter Games, but it’ll give you an idea of why and how we captured the gold today…