Queenstown, New Zealand (7 September 2012) – After horrendous weather conditions postponed the competition at the Remarkables, The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand Big Mountain finals took place today and put an exclamation mark on the successful event. Athletes faced strong wind but great snow in Alta Basin and top honours in the 3 Star Freeride World Tour Qualifier went to B Devine and Hannah Fisher.
The level of riding the menʼs division was stupendously competitive: the top 5 were all within 0.5 points of each other. American B Devine blew the judges out of the water with creative run including a 180 at the top to switch 180 over a drop. He then backed it up with two more solid airs with a big 360 on the second air.
Austrian Fabio Studer took 2nd with a fast run including an awesome hand-drag 360 in his run. Christchurch local Charlie Lyons, who recently qualified for the upcoming Freeride World Tour, skied a precise and technical run with absolutely no flaws, helping him to third place.
“Iʼm stoked, the standard was really high with a lot of guys throwing technical tricks,” said Charlie. “I decided to tone it down and play it smart as I have a big six months of competing ahead of me. I am really happy with the result”
In the womenʼs competition Australian Hannah Fisher impressed the judges with smooth skiing through the main shoot and some solid airs with no hesitations, giving her a score of 7.72 and the win. Her compatriot Nat Segal took 2nd with an aggressive and fast run.
Kiwi Janina Kuzma rounded off the podium; she skied a similar line to Nat, yet lacked a little fluidity in comparison to the Australian.
Earlier last week The North Face Freeski Open held successful AFP Gold Level Halfpipe and Slopestyle competitions at Snow Park NZ. This was followed by a great Big Mountain qualifier in Shadow Basin at The Remarkables, where 12 men and 3 women qualified for the finals and their chance to challenge the 11 prequalified men and 4 prequalified women for top honours.
Due to severe wind and weather, the finals had to be postponed for two days. A short weather window presented itself today so the call was made and some of the best freeriders on the planet made their way up to The Remarkables to show the judges what they are made of.
Great snow and blue skies greeted the athletes as they hiked to the top of the awesome Alta Chutes, a world-class venue. Everyone was frothing to go and none of the athletes held back, sending massive airs from the get go. As much of the morning was spent controlling the venue for avalanches, a group decision was made to hold a one run final. Kiwi stand outs for the day included Cantabrian Tom Brownlee, who sent a massive flat spin 360 off a cliff, sadly coming unstuck on the landing, Logan Sweeney who just missed stomping a big back flip and Sam Lee who skied phenomenally and missed out on the podium by just 0.03 points.
“The level of riding at The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand Big Mountain competition continues to push freeride skiing every year,” said head judge Dion Newport. “It is great to see newschool tricks incorporated into so many runs. The future of freeride skiing looks very bright indeed!”
That wraps up the final day of The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand…the only contest in the world to hold a Freeride World Tour qualifier in conjunction with AFP Gold Level Slopestyle and Halfpipe competitions.
The organizers couldnʼt be happier with the outcome and look forward to making the event bigger and better next year. They would like to send out a massive thank you to all the sponsors, patrollers, riders, volunteers and media that helped out, as well as Snow Park NZ and The Remarkables for hosting the competitions.