New Zealand Freeskier Ben Barclay (Auckland, age 19) has finished in second place at the FIS Freeski Slopestyle World Cup in France tonight. This is a career best performance for Ben and his first World Cup podium.
Just after the event Ben explained “Right now it doesn’t seem too real, the goal was far exceeded today. Our plan was to have a safe run to help secure Olympic selection, but everything just fell into line and I couldn’t be happier.”
Ben went head-to-head with some of the top freeski slopestyle athletes in the world and held his own, laying down a great first run which had him sitting in fourth position. Ben dropped into run two knowing he would need to step up his run to have a shot at the podium.
“I didn’t have too much stress going into the second run as I was sitting in a good position, I just wanted to try and fix the mistakes I made in the first run. I was feeling calm, and I think that was one of the main reasons it went so well.”
The course started with three jumps, where Ben laced together a right double 1260 into a huge switch left double 1620 into a left double 1080 mute.
Up next was the technical rail section, where we had already seen many top skiers make crucial errors. Ben had no problems, putting down a pretzel 630 out of the first rail, a switch 270 on, back swap, front 270 out of the second rail and a 270 on, pretzel 270 out of the final rail.
Ben’s impressive second run was rewarded with an 82.71 from the judges, leap frogging him into second place. With 11 skiers still to drop it was a nerve wracking wait for Ben.
“For the first six skiers I was pretty calm as I didn’t think it [second position] would hold, given the remaining 11 athletes were some of the best in the world. When it got to the last five skiers, I was feeling anxious and nervous. Once it got to the last two skiers, I realised I had a confirmed podium finish, and all the weight was lifted off my shoulders. When I found out I had snagged second place it was the best feeling anyone could ever ask for.” said Ben.
Andri Ragettli (SUI) secured his ninth World Cup podium, taking the win today and Edouard Therriault (CAN) rounded out the podium in third.
This was the final FIS Freeski Slopestyle World Cup event before the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Ben is yet to be selected to the NZ Team for Beijing 2022, but today's result will certainly help his case in the upcoming selection this week.