A quality international field featuring Olympians and national champions provided spectacular action at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ FIS Cross-Country Skiing Australia New Zealand Continental Cup (ANC) Sprint at Snow Farm NZ near Wanaka today, with top honours going to Korea’s Kim Eun-Ho and Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt of Canada.
Ideal weather and snow conditions lent themselves to high speed cross country sprint racing on an 800m course with men completing two laps and women one lap. The first round covered time trials as athletes raced against the clock for a position in the next round.
Semis and finals pit athletes head to head to determine the final placings and racing with up to four athletes competing was an exciting display for the cheering spectators.
Eun-Ho was a high performer throughout the day, topping the prologue result table, in joint first place with Canadian Stuart Harden, clocking a time of 00:04:40 over the 1.6km sprint course. He went on to win his semi-final heat and confidently stamped his name on the gold ahead of fellow country man Jun-Ho Hwang and Canadian William Poffenroth who took bronze.
Eun-Ho was thrilled with his ANC title win and the snow conditions.
“In Korea we train mainly on man-made snow, it’s great to be on natural snow here in New Zealand. It is very smooth and I glided well. The conditions were awesome,” he said.
In the women’s race, favourite Olivia Bouffard-Nesbitt grew stronger as the day progressed. Recording the second fastest female time, 00:02:25 in the prologue just behind Olympian Barbara Jezersek of Slovenia, who clocked 02.24, Bouffard-Nesbitt convincingly won her semi and struck gold in the final ahead of Jezersek and third placed Katerina Paul of Australia.
Bouffard-Nesbitt was upbeat about her performance. “It was a good race on a very good track here at Snow Farm. I felt great heading in to the finals and the result is a good end to my month-long training camp here in New Zealand,” she said.
New Zealand’s sole entrant Andy Pohl, who recently represented New Zealand at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2015, completed the prologue in seventh place in 00:04.50. He placed second in the B final.
Chief of Competition, Nikki Holmes commended the standard of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ event which saw an excellent level of competition for the world class athletes.
“It was exciting racing today with a couple of false starts, a few scuffles in the field and talented cross country skiers. We are looking forward to the next two days of racing at the Snow Farm,” she said.
Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2015 continues tomorrow (Saturday) with the FIS Cross-Country Skiing ANC Mass Start Classic race at Snow Farm NZ near Wanaka and the FIS Alpine Skiing ANC Slalom race at Coronet Peak near Queenstown. Start lists and results are available on the event website www.wintergamesnz.kiwi. In Queenstown, there’s a one-off ‘Skate of Origin’ ice hockey match – North Island vs. South Island. The two downtown Games Villages in Queenstown and Wanaka are open daily from 3pm with live music and DJs, medal ceremonies, the Adventure Film Festival presented by GoPro and aprÃ©s ski hospitality.