Riding with confidence on his home mountain, Wanaka’s Jossi Wells captured the pinnacle event of the season Thursday, winning the Men’s halfpipe competition at the Volkl NZ Freeski Open at Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Cardrona’s 22ft halfpipe, which was cut to perfection by head shaper John Melville, gave Wells the opportunity to execute a series of technical tricks with smooth landings.
“I was really happy to take it out. I didn’t have high expectations today as I haven’t skied much pipe this season,” said Wells. “I laid down a pretty good run and walked away with a win.”
Taylor Seaton, of USA, who was the only rider dropping in switch (backwards) followed up in second place, while Finland’s AJ Kemppainen secured third.
“This it the fourth year I have competed here, but my first time on the podium,” said Seaton. “The comp was run for the riders, which is like it should be. I loved the good vibes, the reggae music and the overall running of the event.”
Wanaka’s Janina Kuzma, who also won the North Face Big Mountain at the Volkl NZ Freeski Open for the fifth time in a row earlier this week, switched her big mountain skis for park skis to win the Women’s Halfpipe.
“I’m really happy to win,” said Kuzma, who placed second in halfpipe at the Volkl NZ Freeski Open back in 2006. “It was good to come back and ride in the park again.”
Fellow Kiwi Lyndon Sheehan pleased all spectators with some of the best amplitude in the contest, placing fifth overall.
Wells, Kuzma and Sheehan are members of the New Zealand Freeski National Team.
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.