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New Zealand Free Ski Team Does Well In USA

Press Release – 17 February 2005

New Zealand Free Ski Team Does Well In USA

New Zealand’s young free skiers have been taking the USA by storm this winter as part of the newly formed New Zealand Free Ski Team, aided by the Free Ski Association of New Zealand (FSANZ). The athletes have competed in a number of competitions, including the largest and most respected contest in free skiing, the 2005 US Free Skiing Open, that attracts the world’s best professional athletes.

In the Superpipe, Wanaka skiers Jossi Wells and Amy Sheehan competed well with Jossi (14) one of only two youngsters to make it through to the men’s semi finals in the open event. His final placing was 29th out of 300. Amy (18) went through to the women’s finals with an impressive overall placing of 15th.

At 12, Jossi’s brother Byron was the youngest competitor but this didn’t stop him pulling off 11th out of 40 men in the heats, unfortunately not enough to earn him a place in the semi finals.

Both Lyndon Sheehan (16) and Cromwell’s Sam Smoothy (18) competed well but due to injury and equipment failure did not manage to progress past the heats.

“This is the first time that New Zealand has competed as a team at this level of competition and they all did well against a very strong field,” said Stu Waddel of the FSANZ. “Even though they are at the youth end of the US Free Ski Open, they all competed in the open division against skiers with age and experience on their side.”

Amy Sheehan said the time spent in the States was hugely valuable to developing their skiing and gaining competition experience.

“We’ve had a great time in the States and found all the competitions have been an awesome experience,” she said. “The US Open was especially good as we were competing against the world’s best and getting to know and ski with our skiing heroes!”

Byron Wells’ performance in the States has earned him a place in the top three qualifiers for the US National Next X Games in Keystone, Colorado in February. The event is a youth talent-finding contest for the under 14s and athletes are selected for their all round skiing ability in moguls aerials, slopestyle, gate racing and halfpipe as well as their personality and commitment to the sport.

The Sheehans have also done well in other competitions, with Lyndon receiving three gold medals and Amy two silvers during the USASA Freeride Search competitions that are held throughout the USA and Canada. These results allowed them both to qualify for the USA Junior Nationals although time and budget restrictions mean they have to return to New Zealand before the competition takes place.

-ends-

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