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Perfect conditions for cross country ski racing

Perfect conditions for an exciting first day of cross country ski racing

SNOW FARM, New Zealand (August 13, 2011) – Clear blue skies welcomed athletes to the Snow Farm today for fast paced action on the first of three days of cross country ski racing at the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.

The men’s 15km classic race featured a strong field of Canadian and American skiers. The racing was tight with an exciting sprint to the finish, just 1.2 seconds split the first three athletes. Kris Freeman (USA) was first across the line in 38:30.8, just 8 tenths of a second behind was teammate Andrew Newell, followed closely by Canadian Alex Harvey.

Freeman was delighted with his victory, “It was a good technical race as the field hung together in a pack until the final 2km mark. It is great to have a strong North American contingent here in New Zealand enjoying the hard tracks and excellent conditions,” said Freeman.

Visually impaired Brian McKeever (CAN) who races in both able bodied and adaptive fields featured in the men’s able bodied division today alongside his guide (when racing IPC) Erik Carleton. McKeever put in a great performance on the 15km course and out-skied Carleton coming in two places ahead on the results table in eighth position.

In the women’s 10km classic race the world’s number one and Olympic gold medallist Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) lead throughout the race crossing the finish line first in 30:35. Sumiko Ishigaki (JPN) finished second in 34:34, third place went to Seul-Gi Nam (JPN). Kowalczyk said today’s conditions were perfect. “This is the first time I have been to New Zealand, the snow and course conditions are very good. I am pleased with my race today,” she said.

There were strong performances in the adaptive competition, racing on the same course as the able-bodied athletes. Canada’s Chris Klebl was the sole competitor in the men’s sit ski category (10km) finishing in 19:12.8 with Colette Bourgonje (CAN) winning the women’s sit ski division (10km) in 20:23.5. In the standing section Japan’s Yoshihiro Nita took the men’s standing (15km) title in 44:07.6 and Ota Shoko the women’s title (10km) in 37:49.10.

New Zealand athletes performed well against their international peers. New Zealand’s first biathlete to compete in a Winter Olympics in 2011, Sarah Murphy was the fourth female skier home, in the men’s field Nils Koon was fourteenth across the line, Andrew Pohl fifteenth and Nat Anglem twenty first.

100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continues tomorrow (August 14) with sprint cross country skiing at the Snow Farm.

-ends-

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