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History Made By Kiwi Freeskier

28/2/06

History Made By Kiwi Freeskier

Tom Dunbar of Hanmer Springs, one of New Zealand’s top big mountain free skiers, made his mark at the second stop of the Free Skiing World Tour in Verbier, Switzerland last week, scoring an unprecedented 9/10 for difficulty of line and 10/10 for aggressiveness.

International Free Skiing Association (IFSA) head judge, Jim Jack, announced he had never before seen a line score of nine in the four-year history of the IFSA World Tour. The run was fluid out of the technical top section straight into a 50ft plus cliff drop, landing cleanly before launching into three more large, technical airs in a section where many of his fellow competitors played it safe, bringing both the crowd and the judges to their feet with a huge cheer.

While Dunbar’s line and aggressiveness scores were very high, he lost points on control for a fall at the top of the course that saw him finish in eighth place overall. His run was so impressive however, that he was the recipient of a specially created Sick Bird Award, together with US$500.

The other New Zealander in the Super Finals of the event, Hamish Acland of Mount Somers, who finished last year’s IFSA Tour ranked fifth in the world, also put in an impressive run featuring a huge cliff drop. However, heavy snow saw him catapult down the steep slope on landing, destroying his chance of a high placing, ending up in 17th out of a total field of over 60 athletes, including three other Kiwis who qualified but didn’t make it through to the finals.

Acland said having such a strong Kiwi representation at a high profile event indicated the free skiing vision was coming to fruition.

“We now have more skiers than ever competing on a international level (15 in both freestyle and in Big Mountain) and now when the New Zealand name is seen on the start list it is seen as a real threat to take the winners podium,” he said. “This week feels like we have reached a level that can't be denied – that New Zealand has some of the world’s best skiers and we’re being recognized for it for it.”

ENDS

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