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Cross country sprint skiers battle snow blizzards


Cross country sprint skiers battle snow blizzards at Snow Farm

SNOW FARM, New Zealand (August 14, 2011) – Olympic medallists and world champions battled against each other and adverse weather conditions on day two of the cross country ski racing at the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.

Despite the whiteout and poor visibility racing was fast and furious on the 1605m course for men, 1025m for women and 1km for IPC athletes. The event attracted cross country skiers from USA, Russia, Canada, Japan, Peru, Korea, Poland, Australia and New Zealand.

The first round format was time trials as athletes raced against the clock for a position in the next round. Semis and finals pit athletes head to head to determine the final placings, racing with up to four athletes was thrilling especially as they skied down the finish chute.

The women’s final was hotly competed, with the world’s current number one cross country skier Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) going head to head with twelve times FIS Ski Champion Natalia Korosteleva (RUS). The winner was determined by a photo finish. Kowalczyk pipped Korosteleva across the line with just eight hundredths of a second in it. Third place went to Maria Davydenkova (RUS).

Kowalczyk enjoyed the closely fought race even with the tougher conditions. “The weather was very different to yesterday and training this week. It was great to have a great race with Natalia, it was so very close,” she said.

USA dominated the podium with a first, second and third. Topping the men’s field Andrew Newell out-sprint team mate Kris Freeman in the final 200 metres. Simeon Hamilton finished third. Fresh from his win yesterday in the classic cross country racing Newell was pleased with the victory. “They were tough conditions today but made the race challenging. Cross country sprint is very similar to skier cross, only we have the uphills too, the tight finishes make it a real exciting,” said Newell.

New Zealand’s Andrew Pohl was the only New Zealand male to proceed to the semi finals, finishing in sixteenth position. In the women’s division Sarah Murphy achieved sixth place.

There were impressive performances from the adaptive athletes in the sprint discipline. In the women’s IPC field Japan’s Shoko Ota achieved her second first of the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games, adding to her win yesterday in the classic racing. Yoshihiro Nitta (JPN) also made it a double, winning the men’s IPC division. Vo-Ra-Mi (KOR) was the sole sit-skier participating and takes gold.

100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continues tomorrow (August 15) with the freeski slopestye at Snow Park NZ.
-ends-


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