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August 22nd news from 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games

Monday August 22, 2011

Cliff hanger finish at ANC Alpine Giant Slalom at Coronet Peak

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 146.85 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 147.64

“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).

Australia Take Out Ice Hockey Championship in Style

The Australian ice hockey team left no doubt last night who deserved to take out the Ice Hockey Championship at the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games when they beat New Zealand 4-1. Australia dominated throughout with superior skills and stick work but the Kiwis did not go down without fighting.

The Ice Blacks spent most of the first period on defence and only conceded one goal to Australia which came in the 12th minute when Scott Levitt waited patiently for the right opportunity to strike and put one past New Zealand goaltender Zac Nothling. Braden Lee had the best scoring opportunity for the Ice Blacks but could not break through goalie Matt Ezzy.

The second period saw an increase in intensity but penalties on New Zealand hurt with too much time in the penalty box providing opportunities for Australia to score three times. The Kiwi shots on goal all came in a flurry with Matt Ezzy having to make some big saves.

The score was 4 -1 heading into the third period and the Ice Blacks shot out of the box looking like they meant business and 33 seconds later Braden Lee scored New Zealand’s only goal. The rest of the period was scoreless with play often tied up on the corners.

With 6 imports in the Australian team, experience was definitely on their side and contributed to Australia’s superb control and efficient teamwork.

Both goaltenders had impressive performances making some spectacular saves. Matt Ezzy with 28 and Zac Nothling 13.

Australian Captain, Scott Stephenson, was pleased with his team’s solid win and paid tribute to the Ice Black’s performance. “It was a physical game. The Ice Blacks were always hard hitting and they never quit. It’s been great to be part of this international championship at the Winter Games”.

Following the game Ice Blacks Captain, Cory Down, announced that he was retiring from Ice Hockey after 12 years in the sport. “I feel it is a good time to go, particularly after our performance at the World Champs. There are younger guys coming through who played with intensity today against a classy team, I think ice hockey in New Zealand has a positive future.”

Goal Scorers for New Zealand were: Braden Lee
Goal Scorers for Australia were: Scott Levitt, Scott Stephenson, Peter Cartwright, Scott Corbett.

Catch all the action on Sky Sports

For all our New Zealand followers, don't forget to tune in each night to Sky Sports 3 at 9pm and catch all the latest action from 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.

Tonight's programme is brought to you from Snow Park NZ showing all the action from yesterday's Snowboard Slopestyle featuring world number one Jamie Anderson and men's title winner Torgeir Bergrem of Norway. Also featured are highlights from Saturday's NZ vs China Ice Hockey semi finals.

Don't miss any of the action - tonight's programme will be repeated at 600am tomorrow morning on Sky Sports 1 and at midday on Sky Sports 2.

Check out all of the action straight from the slopes

Make sure you check out all the action from the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games. View footage straight from the slopes here thanks to Michael Hill TV.

http://wintergamesnz.com/tv/17

Keep up to date with all of tomorrow's action on Twitter/Facebook

Keep up to date with the action as it happens on the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games Facebook and Twitter pages.

www.facebook.com/WinterGamesNZ

http://twitter.com/#!/wintergamesnz

ENDS


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