In a complete contrast to yesterday’s conditions the wind, snow and sleet made for interesting racing in the freestyle discipline, bringing the cross country competition for the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games to a close today.
The Canadian athletes made a clean sweep of the medals table in the freestyle racing, securing top three positions in both the men’s and women’s field. Inge Bråten, national coach of Canada’s cross country team and a highly successful former coach of the Swedish and Norwegian national teams was pleased with the team’s quality performances over the past three days.
“The team is in good shape for the upcoming Winter Olympics, hopefully we will be even more powerful in our home country. Being able to undertake our off-season training at high altitude and on a great course with good competition at the Winter Games NZ is excellent for
our preparation,” he said.
The freestyle course covered 10km (2 laps) for the men – able-bodied and adaptive standing skiers and 5km for both women’s fields and the sit-ski men.
Topping the men’s field Ivan Babikov finished in a time of 23mins 8seconds, second placed Devon Kershaw crossed the line just five seconds behind. George Grey took out third in a time of 23mins 43seconds. Canada’s Alex Harvey won the Under 23 overall title.
In the women’s field Sara Renner, the classic cross country winner from Sunday scooped her second gold in a time of 13mins 2seconds. Yesterday’s sprint winner Perianne Jones gained second and Brittany Webster third. Webster also won the Under 23 overall winner.
New Zealand men’s cross country Olympic hopeful, Ben Koons, collected 102.31 FIS points from his eighteenth placing today and moves another step closer to qualifying. Highest placed New Zealand female, Andrea Fancy, crossed the line in seventh and Sarah Murphy (NZL) came tenth.
In the paralympic field Japan’s Kozo Kubo (sit-ski) and Ota Shoko (standing), and Colette Bourgonje (sit-ski) of Canada all pulled off a hat-trick winning gold in every cross country disciplines; classic, sprint and freestyle. Mark Arendz (CAN) claimed the men’s standing title.
100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games continues tomorrow (25 August) with the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup Halfpipe at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Curling at Naseby.