Neil Kerr/winter Games NZ
Gustav Legnavsky during final training for the men’s freeski halfpipe at the Winter Games at Cardrona on Monday. In the end competition was called off, with Legnavksy declared the winner from earlier qualifying.
Ronan Thompson and Jessie Violet led the way for New Zealand as the first of the freeride events at the Winter Games NZ began at The Remarkables skifield in Queenstown on Monday.
New Zealand skiers and snowboarders landed six of the 12 podium places in the North Face Frontier 2-star event, held in icy underfoot conditions with snow showers throughout the day
Thompson led an all-Kiwi podium in the men’s snowboard, which he won in 2020. He impressed the judges with fast riding and a huge 360. Scott Beacom finished second and Max King third.
“That was tough out there,” he said. “I just wanted to do the 360, that was my goal for the day. It was a real fast run out with not great snow but I’ve done that before, so I thought I’ll go with what I know.”
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It was a Kiwi one-two in the women’s ski field with Violet beating Elke Marshall. Violet, 19, has made the podium at junior freeride events, but proved that she is ready to make her mark on a bigger stage, incorporating a huge air into her run. “The bottom half of the course is fun, but the top half is really challenging. Conditions were really icy but I thought my run was ok and I liked that bottom air.”
Kiwi Lach Powell picked up a second place finish behind Japan’s Tenra Katsuno in the men’s ski, while Canada’s Jaimie Figueira won the women’s snowboard.
The 4-star event will be held on Thursday.
High winds and low visibility meant that finals for some other disciplines on Monday had to be halted, with the leaders in those events on Thursday and Saturday declared the winners.
Cardrona local and Beijing 2022 Winter Olympian 16-year-old Gustav Legnavsky won the men’s freeski halfpipe category with an impressive run that included three double corks, scoring 94.33.
He was disappointed that the finals were cancelled, but nonetheless was stoked to take the overall win.
“Since the Olympics I’ve been getting fired up wanting to have those better results. It definitely feels a lot better and I have been more consistent.
“I am pretty excited, it’s great to get another gold back at my home mountain.”
Fellow Kiwi Ben Harrington, who had an ugly crash when trying to qualify for the Olympics final in February, finished in second place, right behind Legnavsky, with a score of 93 flat.
Eighteen-year-old Kiwi Campbell Melville finished third in the men’s snowboard halfpike, won by Chaeun Lee of Japan, while Gaon Choi of Korea won the women’s event.
Ruby Andrews of Queenstown and Luca Harrington of Wānaka topped the women’s and men’s freeski slopestyle, with results from qualification on Saturday used as the final results.
Andrews was in second place after the first run and knew she had to do something special to secure the top spot – and pulled out a switch misty 900 down, which she had not done before.
“I am stoked, over the moon – this is my home mountain and coming away with a result like today, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” she said.
Freeski judge Kat Alexander was impressed with Harrington’s win.
“Luca’s first run was unreal, his right double cork 1260 tail grab was perfection and then he got massive amplitude on his switch right double cork 1260 on the final jump, that just blew us out of the water.”
Harrington said: “It definitely was challenging with the weather; qualification day was the best day we had so I just tried to put something down that was clean and turned out that it worked out in my favour, so I am pretty happy.”
Wānaka athletes Lucia Georgalli and Ava Beer finished in second and third in the women’s snowboard slopestyle behind Mari Fukada of Japan, while Jesse Parkinson was a standout winner of the men’s event.
Eighteen-year-old Campbell Melville finished third in the men’s snowboard halfpike, won by Chaeun Lee of Japan, while Gaon Choi of Korea won the women’s event.