Slalom World number three Veronika Zuzulova continued her winning form at the 100% Pure Winter Games at Coronet Peak today claiming the Australia New Zealand Continental Cup Slalom title while American Will Brandenburg put on a blistering second run performance to stamp his name on the men’s trophy.
The race on the Rocky Gully Race Arena was a testing World Cup class course, affected at times by strong, gusty winds. Chief of Race Richard Murphy says the race was particularly difficult for the women with only 16 of the 34 starters going through to the second run. "The race was a true test of mental strength in skiing", he says. "But the course was in great condition and held up well. We had very firm injected snow, definitely of World Cup standard, and the preparation of the piste was excellent. The Men’s field was serious quality, probably one of the best seen in New Zealand for many years". He says the exposure for the Winter Games NZ and Coronet Peak, particularly in North America and Europe, due to the calibre of the alpine races, has been outstanding.
Zuzulova was in a class of her own on the 52 gate course attracting a large crowd of spectators to watch her and the other top seeds in action. She was fastest in the first run by almost three seconds in 46.64 but was pipped in the second by silver medallist Kristine Gjeitsen Haugen, who celebrated her 19th birthday by taking the run in 43.76, just a few splits ahead of Zuzulova who recorded 43.94. Zuzulova clocked a combined time of 1.30.58 to take the title adding it to her giant slalom title won at Coronet Peak yesterday. "The World Cup course was good for me today but it was difficult for some of the others who don’t ski at this level. I am very happy to win today and really enjoy racing at Coronet Peak". Haugen finished in 1.33.21 ahead of Switzerland’s Priska Nufer in 1.33.85. Both athletes ski on the Europa Cup circuit. Current New Zealand slalom titleholder Sarah Jarvis placed ninth in 1.41.90. "I really loved the course. The snow was awesome just like Europa Cup and World Cup conditions. It was a great opportunity to challenge myself".
The Men’s race was a who’s who of world top 100 Slalom racers and the first run was a major battle amongst the first ten placegetters, with one of the sport’s distinctive personalities Olympic medallist Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria, clocking the fastest time in 44.61. However the lesser ranked Brandenburg who was fifth after the first run put down the hammer to take the fastest second run time in 46.86. Brandenburg’s combined time of 1.32.47 was enough to edge Schoenfelder who scored 1.32.94 out of the top slot. "I am stoked. I had a blast. It’s been a hard season so this is big for me, really big. Schoenfelder is an amazing skier and has been skiing for a long time and I just had to trust myself and ski the way I wanted to ski". The bronze medal went to World Cup skier Lars Elton Mhyre of Norway in 1.33.45 while top seed legendary Canadian Michael Janyk finished fourth in 1.33.57 ahead of Germany’s Fritz Dopper in 1.33.78.
Queenstown’s Andrew Wylie was first New Zealander in 27th place in 1.42.31 after starting in bib 94 in the 108 strong field. Adam Barwood also of Queenstown clocked 1.42.46 to take 29th place after improving from a start position of 89.