Wanaka, New Zealand (1 September 2012) – The North Face Freeski Open welcomed over sixty international freeskiers to fight it out in the halfpipe at Snow Park NZ today. The athletes had to fight poor weather conditions as wind and fog affected the course all day. New Zealand’s Jossi Wells and Janina Kuzma both narrowly missed podium finishes and ending in fourth place.
Wells run was described by legendary Tanner Hall as “one of the best runs of the day.”
Kuzma’s run included both a left and right 540. Only recently focusing on halfpipe skiing, she is one to look out for in the lead up to the 2014 Olympics.
The schedule for the day had to be moved directly to men’s semi finals and ladies’ finals due to the weather. Yet all competitors still threw down an array of different tricks thanks to the outstanding job of the Snow Park shaper crew and volunteers. After discussions with the competitors about the adverse conditions, the decision was made to run a straight final for the ladies, eventually the fog obstructed visibility completely causing the men’s finals to be cut to one run.
After a four year hiatus, Freeski icon, Tanner Hall, stole the show with a smooth run down the pipe, including a big 900 tail, alley-oop 360 japan, a styled out switch 720 mute, right 900 safety, finished off with a 1080 tail; gaining a score 85.00 and first place.
“I am so stoked to be back after four years of not competing, and coming back to win The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand is the best feeling ever,” exclaimed the American, followed by a modest acknowledgement of first place qualifier and local hero Jossi Wells. “Big props to Jossi, who skied amazingly well in both the qualifiers and finals.”
American Torin Yater-Wallace came in second after landing a massive run including a solid switch right 900 mute at the bottom. In third place was the Frenchman Benoit Valentine, who impressed judges with huge amplitude and a clean double flare at the top. After qualifying in first, Wells fell victim to the one run final, ending up in fourth place despite skiing strongly all day.
Norway’s Tiril Christiansen took home the ladies title, with a phenomenal score of 88.20. Her run included two big right 540s with differing grabs and a solid right 720.
“I can’t express how stoked I am” said the elated Norwegian. “It is the first time that I have won a major pipe competition so I couldn’t be happier! I will definitely be back next year. New Zealand is one of the most amazing places I have ever visited!”
Angeli Vanlaanen, of the USA, had to settle for second place with a score 87.00 on her last run which included a big 720 to finish. While Belgium’s Katrien Aerts went big all day and in combination with a lofty 540 mute, grabbed third place.
The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand moves to The Remarkables next week, for the 3 Star Freeride World Tour Qualifier Big Mountain competition. Two fine weather days will be picked between the 3rd and 8th of September for the qualifiers in Shadow Basin and finals in the Alta Chutes.