01.09.12 Wanaka, New Zealand – 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. After a four year hiatus from competition, Tanner Hall came back to win his first competition, while Tiril Christiansen also won her first major competition.
Mens podium – Photo credit © Dan Power
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.
Nevertheless 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.
Tanner Hall – Photo credit © Nick Johnson
“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. In my opinion he had one of the best runs of the day.”
American Torin Yater-Wallace came in 2nd after landing a massive run including a solid switch right 900 mute at the bottom. In 3rd place was the Frenchman Benoit Valentine, who impressed judges with huge amplitude and a clean double flare at the top. After qualifying in 1st, local boy Jossi Wells fell victim to the one run final, ending up in 4th place despite skiing strongly all day.
Jossi Wells – Photo credit © Nick Johnson
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 2nd 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 3rd place.
Tiril Christiansen - Photo credit © Nick Johnson
Angeli Vanlaanen - Photo credit © Nick Johnson
Coming in 4th place was New Zealand’s own Janina Kuzma, famous for her Big Mountain excursions on the Freeride World Tour. Her run included both a left and right 540, however may have needed a little more amplitude to push her on the podium. Only recently focusing on halfpipe skiing, Janina is one to look out for in future competitions leading up to the 2014 Olympics.
Janina Kuzma - Photo credit © Nick Johnson
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.
For all the information you need on the event visit the website: www.nzfreeskiopen.com