It was two days of incredibly athletic skiing by the men and women competing in the slalom events in conditions which were described as ‘buckle up and hang on!’ by some at the Winter Games NZ Australia New Zealand Cup (ANC) slalom races at Coronet Peak.
Charlotte Chable of Switzerland, who is based at Coronet Peak training for the southern hemisphere winter, laid down a scorching first and second run to take the overall win in the women’s slalom on Wednesday and scored an 8-point FIS result.
17-year-old Neja Dvornik of Slovenia, who has been skiing very impressively throughout the ANC Cup series, put down two very solid runs for an outstanding second place overall. Third place on the podium went to New Zealand’s Piera Hudson who laid down the challenge on run two to have the second fastest time on the run and finish third in day one of slalom.
“It’s a really good field here, there are a lot of girls here who ski World Cup slalom so, yeah, I’m really stoked to be on the podium today,” said an excited Hudson.
In a field of world-class female athletes, young Queenstowner and NZ Winter Olympian Alice Robinson finished strongly after some mistakes on the first run, finishing in sixth position, with 17-year-old Alex Hull — also of Queenstown — producing a very solid performance, finishing in 10th place.
In the men’s field it was another very closely fought battle. Skiing extremely well in challenging conditions on the middle section of the course produced a new leader, Switzerland’s Marc Rochat who laid down a blistering run to take the gold medal position and score a 6-point FIS result, the best points possible at this Continental Cup FIS race. Adam Zampa from Slovakia impressed again with more incredible skiing, finishing in second position. Moving into third place on Wednesday with a fast second run was Swiss World Cup skier Sandro Simonet.
New Zealand’s Adam Barwood skied into 24th place and Willis Feasey into 32nd place.
Racing on the Outwide courses ran hard and fast for both the men and women on day two as the snow was perfect for slalom racing. Scorching down the first run for the men was the ever consistent and super impressive yellow bib holder Zampa of Slovakia, who led the field after a strong challenge from yesterday’s winner Rochat and Simonet of Switzerland.
It was Johannes Strolz of Austria who then sent a very clear message to the rest of the field of his intention to be on the podium with a fast second run which put him in the lead right up to the moment Zampa crossed the finish line into first place for the men and became again the proud holder of the coveted ANC slalom series ‘yellow bib’. A close second place today for Strolz and in third place overall was the impressive flying Rochat, yesterday’s winner.
Running on a separate course on Outwide, the women got off to a flying start with many in the field hitting top gear in their skiing. The course claimed a few casualties at this pace which narrowed the field down to only 22 racers for the second run.
Leading the women’s field after the first run was the consistent Chable of Switzerland, followed closely by Charlie Guest of Great Britain, Dvornik of Slovenia ,and Hudson of New Zealand.
With a smaller field heading into the women’s second run it was game on. A scorching fast run by Amelia Smart of Canada, nailing the fastest second run time in the women’s field, saw her push her way through to third place overall. Switzerland’s Chable finished strongly into second place while Guest of Great Britain was absolutely delighted to ski the race of her life and take top spot on the slalom podium.
“It’s been two years since I had any kind of result like this – coming back from injuries and I’ve been working so hard in training, I just can’t believe this has happened! It feels so good!” said said an elated Guest.
New Zealand’s Piera Hudson finished in fifth place, securing the yellow bib as top placed NZ female across the ANC slalom series and giving her a World Cup slalom start this Northern Hemisphere Winter. New Zealand’s Georgia Bushell finished in 12th place after two solid runs. Fellow New Zealanders Alice Robinson and Alex Hull, unfortunately, did not complete their runs in Thursday’s slalom and the same was also true for kiwi Willis Feasey in the men’s race.
The host nation ‘yellow bib’ in men’s slalom goes to Louis Muhlen-Schulte of Australia as the top slalom points holder from the host nations NZ and AUS.
The alpine racing component of the Audi quattro NZ Winter Games NZ is now complete, with many of the New Zealand and international athletes now traveling up to Mount Hutt to compete in the ANC Continental Cup Super G races early next week, or to go on to further training blocks while the snow is good here in New Zealand.