Korea made a clean sweep of the men’s medals and gained gold in the women’s division at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 FIS Cross-Country Skiing Australia New Zealand Continental Cup (ANC) Mass Start Classic at Snow Farm NZ near Wanaka today.
New Zealand’s top cross-country skier, Andrew Pohl had a solid race but just missed the podium with a fourth place finish in 46:04:37. “There was a great mixture of terrain in today’s course. The warm temperatures and bit of rain made it critical for the wax technicians’ decisions today and the Korean team got it right, they were all very strong today,” he said.
As hosts of the 2018 Winter Olympics the Korean cross-country team has been working hard during their recent six-week training programme at Snow Farm NZ, and this was reflected in today’s results.
The course covered 10km for women (4 laps) and 15km (4 laps of an extended course) for the men, with a mass start for both fields. Correct waxing played a critical role for the athletes today to ensure a good grip on the climbs and smooth gliding for the downhill sections.
Leading from the start of the men’s race, Sochi Olympian Jun-Ho Hwang maintained his dominance around the four laps to cross the finish line first in 0:44:01. He was followed by countrymen Seong-Beom Park, 23 seconds later and Eun-Ho Kim, yesterday’s sprint winner, who took bronze in 0:44:38.
Hwang was excited about his win, “The conditions were great and my skis were very good for the snow, I had very good grip. I was so happy on the final climb knowing I could get to the finish line first,” he said.
In the women’s field, pre-race favourite Chae-Won Lee’s strong performance in a time of 0:36:06 ensured she took the winner’s title and a gold medal. Slovenia’s Barbara Jezersek crossed the line in 0:37:22 for silver and yesterday’s sprint winner Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt of Canada took bronze in 0:38:31.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 continues tomorrow (Sunday) with the FIS Cross-Country Skiing ANC Individual Start Freestyle race at Snow Farm NZ near Wanaka and the FIS Alpine Skiing ANC Giant Slalom at Coronet Peak near Queenstown. The final day programme at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka begins with the FIS Snowboard World Cup Halfpipe finals followed by the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Snowboard and AFP Freeski Big Air finals before the on-mountain closing ceremony. Start lists and results are available on the event website www.wintergamesnz.kiwi. The two downtown Games Villages in Queenstown and Wanaka are open daily from 3pm with live music and DJs, medal ceremonies and aprés ski hospitality. The free JUCY Meltdown Concert takes place in Wanaka featuring Kora supported by Arma Del Amor.
Image: Andrew Pohl of New Zealand leads Eun-Ho Kim of Korea in today’s FIS Cross-Country Skiing race during Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 (Getty Images).