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Cliffhanger finish at Winter Games NZ men's giant slalom

Cliffhanger finish at Winter Games NZ men's giant slalom

QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand (August 22 2011) - A Europa Cup calibre field provided spectacular action on Coronet Peak today in the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games Australia New Zealand Continental Cup (ANC) men’s alpine giant slalom resulting in a blistering head-to-head battle which saw the top ten separated by just over one second and the title going to Warner Nickerson of USA.

Nickerson clocked the fastest time of 50.07 in the first run to win with a final combined time of 1.46.20 just splits ahead of Austria’s Marcel Mathis, who was fastest in the second run in 54.94, taking out the silver medal in 1.46.29. Hard on their heels was Colby Granstrom of USA in 1.46.84 in third place, who edged out Jonathan Nordbotten of Norway in 1.46.85 and Stepan Zuev of Russia in 1.46.86.

The technically challenging 35 gate course, raced in clear, sunny and calm conditions, started on the top of the Hurdle, finishing in Eighth Basin. The first run was set by New Zealand national coach Nils Coberger and the second by coach Brad Sax of USA.

One hundred and two athletes from all over the world including Australia, Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Monaco, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA competed in the first run with 60 qualifiers making the cut for the second.

ANC Committee Vice Chairman David Howden says the quality field presented a Europa Cup style event and was one of the best ever seen in New Zealand.

“Only about three seconds separated the first skier from the 60th after the first run and because of this a number of very good athletes missed the cut. It was an impressive race and for the first time in a New Zealand alpine event there was live timing on the FIS website which meant people all round the world could watch the race.”

Howden considers the Winter Games NZ are a significant drawcard for the ANC races this year.

“The Winter Games bring a lot more profile to the races and because of the current climate change around the world there are a lot more overseas teams training in New Zealand who are increasing the quality of our fields.”

Nickerson who is currently ranked 33 in the world was upbeat about his win in the tough field. A regular competitor and podium finisher at Coronet Peak he skied like a demon to stamp his mark on the giant slalom title and will now compete in the Winter Games NZ ANC Cup Super G at Mt Hutt on August 27.

“I was pleased with the first run but the second was difficult. The snow didn’t hold up super- well and I just had to keep fighting it the whole way down. I did that and here I am in the winning spot. The Winter Games is a great opportunity for me to try and improve my world ranking.”

The top seed Felix Neureuther of Germany could only achieve 18th place in 1.47.40 after finishing fifth in the first run. “The second run was not good for me I made a couple of mistakes. It was not the best for me.”

First Kiwi was Olympic representative Ben Griffin who finished 24th in 1.47.64

“The second run especially was a lot of work,” he says. “But it was the same for everyone. You just have to go and do what you have to do.”

The only other New Zealander to qualify for the second run was Adam Barwood of Queenstown who finished 39th in 1.49.71.

Technical Delegate Germain Barrette of Canada paid tribute to Chief of Race Richard Murphy and his crew for the high standard of the race.

“It was a good points race for the athletes, with an almost minimum penalty. The organisation was great, really professional and the volunteers did their job well.”

The 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games women’s giant slalom and the adaptive giant slalom will be held tomorrow at Coronet Peak (Tuesday 23 August).


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