In a close finish, Australia’s Scott Kneller was the winner in today’s 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games Men’s Skier Cross at Cardrona Alpine Resort. Switzerland’s Fanny Smith showed why she’s ranked third in the world taking the top spot on the Women’s podium.
Spectators were treated to one of the most exciting snow sports events of the Winter Games with skiers flying down the course in groups of three and four in a race often compared to motorcross. The first two to cross the line moved on to the next stage of the competition.
Seven nations were represented in the men’s field with 34 riders competing. Today it was Scott Kneller taking the gold with teammate Anton Grimus in a very close second. Swizterland’s Kevin Amacker rounded out the podium in third place.
Kneller, who forgot his ski pants today and raced in his track pants, was very happy with his win, "It was close and Anton was right on my heels", he said. "He’s won the last few races so it was good to come out in the lead today. Having him right behind me made me push harder. At one point he washed out a turn and I thought I’d lost him but he managed to stay right in behind me". Kneller commented on the value of having an international event of this level in New Zealand. "It’s great to be here and racing at an international level. It’s an awesome way to start the season and good to have the momentum going in a positive direction. The course was fantastic and the organization top notch".
Angus Rose was the top-placing kiwi in the Men’s field taking fourth place. Usually you’ll find Angus coaching some of New Zealand’s top athletes but today, according to one of his protégés, Mitchey Greig, he decided he wanted in on the action and showed that he’s certainly capable. This was Rose’s second ever skier cross competition having been a top ski racer in his day.
While the women’s field was small, it featured some heavy hitters including number three-ranked Fanny Smith, along with Mitchey Greig (ranked 32) and Katya Crema (ranked 35).
In the end it was Fanny Smith taking the gold, followed by Australia’s Katya Crema and New Zealand’s own Mitchey Greig in second and third, respectively.
"It’s great to be here in New Zealand with the crew I usually compete with on the circuit", said Smith. "The competition was tough and I’m happy to start my season this way. This is my second time in New Zealand; I was here last year for the Junior World Championships and hope to be back again next year. It’s great to get the training underway early and to be able to compete at an international level".
New Zealand’s Mitchey Greig who made a short comeback at the Winter X Games in Aspen after injuring her shoulder last year ended up leaving Aspen with another injury and hasn’t competed since. "I’m stoked with my result today", said Greig. "It’s great to be on course with Fanny and Katya and to get back on my skis with a good result".