The Winter Games NZ FIS Australia New Zealand Cup alpine ski racing programme finished successfully at Coronet Peak today, with the second of two Slalom races.
Cold temperatures overnight resulted in great snow conditions for the technical race, which was held on the world class slopes of Race Arena. After a postponement yesterday, the athletes were excited to get the race underway.
The women's podium was dominated by the Austrian athletes, although it was hard fought for. After the first run there was just +0.01 seconds separating first and second place athletes A J Hurt (USA) and Nina Astner (AUT), setting the scene for a thrilling second run.
After a run two DNF from Hurt, the Austrian women swept the podium with Nina Astner (AUT) taking the win by a solid margin of -1.43 over Valentina Rings-Wanner in second place. Compatriot Maria Niederndorfer rounded out the podium in third.
Astner explained; “It’s just so cool that I made this win today. I got some really good points which sets me up well for the next winter season. My mindset was to go fast and don’t slip or break or anything!”
The women's podium was made up of three different athletes to Wednesday's Slalom race, showing just how strong and competitive the women's alpine field has been at the 2023 edition of Winter Games NZ.
The firm snow and technical course made for a tough race for the men. Although there was 77 athletes on the startlist, just 40 athletes made it through the brutal first run to start run two, with only 30 men recording a result today.
The men's race was nail bitingly close yet again with impressive runs from Great Britain's Laurie Taylor, who walked away with gold. Sam Maes (BEL) came in a close second, just +0.05 behind Taylor. Joel Luetolf (SUI) rounded out the podium in third.
Taylor, who trained with the local Queenstown Alpine Ski Team (QAST) from ages 11-18 years old, used his local knowledge to his advantage.
“I knew the conditions [in race 2] were going to be tough, I was going to have to follow the track rather than do what I wanted to do and I knew everyone else was going to be going 100% so I had to give more. This result really helps bring my points down for world rankings and bib allocations, so it's a big help.” - Taylor.
As today marked the end of the Winter Games NZ FIS Australia New Zealand Cup slalom programme, the FIS ANC yellow bibs were awarded to overall female and male slalom series winners from New Zealand or Australia.
Mikayla Smyth (Auckland) and Alec Jackson (Whangarei) were the top Kiwi or Australian athletes in the overall FIS ANC Slalom series, resulting in them each winning the yellow bib. This means they both receive World Cup starts for the upcoming 2023/24 winter season, a huge achievement for the young Kiwi racers.
Next on the agenda for the Southern Hemisphere's biggest snow sports event is The North Face Frontier 2* set to be held on Sunday 3 September in Shadow Basin at The Remarkables.