Halfpipe men’s winner Taylor Seaton. Image:: Camilla Stoddart
Vollkl NZ Freeski Open
Challenging, snowy conditions didn’t prevent the world’s top halfpipe riders from raising the bar in the finals of the Volkl NZ Freeski Open halfpipe competition Saturday at Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Taylor Seaton of the United States narrowly edged out Wanaka local Byron Wells in the men’s final. Canada’s Noah Bowman rounded out the podium.
“Taylor and Byron showed the most amplitude of all the riders,” said Head Judge Rafael Regazzoni. “In the end the difference for Taylor was that he was able to combine more tricks in his run and was slightly better technically.”
Byron Wells, Taylor Seaton and Noah Bowman, Men’s Halfpipe place-getters. Image:: Camilla Stoddart.
Regazonni specifically pointed to Seaton’s huge alley-oop 900 as a difference-maker. “Byron went huge, but he missed out on his final hit and that cost him,” said Regazzoni. “And Noah threw a big double flare but was unable to land it cleanly.”
In the women’s halfpipe final, Megan Gunning’s final run score of 94.25 separated her from the rest of the field. Wanaka local Janina Kuzma was second, and US rider Jamie Crane-Mauzy was third.
Janina Kuzma, Megan Gunning and James Crane-Mauzy, women’s halfpipe place-getters. Image:: Camilla Stoddart.
“Megan threw down a huge cork 1080, a trick that not many women can pull off,” said Regazzoni. “She was impressive. It was a fantastic halfpipe but the conditions made it difficult for everyone.”
Wanaka locals Ryan Read and Raphael Beazley finished 18th and 19th, respectively, in the men’s final. After Kuzma, the top New Zealand women were Mikey Austin (5th) and Hannah James (7th).
The Bolle Young Gun Awards went to Canada’s Gunning (1st), Nick Goepper of the US (2nd) and Jonas Hunziker of Switzerland (3rd).
Women’s halfpipe winner Megan Gunning. Image:: Camilla Stoddart
Byron Wells’ brother, reigning World Champion Jossi Wells, did not compete due to injury.
The Volkl NZ Freeski Open continues on 16 August with the North Face Big Mountain Competition at Treble Cone.
The Volkl New Zealand Freeski Open is fast becoming the traditional opening event of the international skiing calendar, rivalling the US and European Open events as a benchmark in world-class freeski competitions.