Norway's Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen and America's Nick Goepper won the first FIS World Cup ski slopestyle contest of the season on Sunday at Cardrona, New Zealand.
With ski slopestyle and halfpipe's Olympic debut in February in Sochi, Russia, this World Cup contest gave athletes a chance to earn World Cup points, which will be counted in each country's selection process for who competes at the Olympics.
In the women's field, only six athletes competed in the final after Eveline Bhend from Switzerland and Anna Vincenti from Scotland did not start.
Christiansen, 18, won by a wide margin with a score of 91, beating out Canada's Dara Howell (84.4) and Germany's Lisa Zimmermann (72.0) with a winning run that included a frontside 450 off the cannon rail and a left 540 mute, a switch right 900 tail and a right 900 tail on the jump section. Christiansen was last season's best overall freeskier on the AFP World Tour rankings and second in slopestyle behind Kaya Turski, who didn't compete this week in New Zealand.
"I've been working really hard and especially this past season and over the summer," Christiansen said. "I feel confident and I'm really excited to go to the Olympics."
Christiansen also praised the skiing of second-place Howell. "Dara is one of my favorite skiers," Christiansen said. "I love to ski with her, and we're always pushing each other. She's not afraid of trying something new and it makes me want to work harder and learn new things."
In the men's contest, Goepper, last season's No. 1 slopestyle skier on the AFP World Tour, scored 94.0 with a run that included a switch 360 to 180 over the wall ride, a transfer frontside switch up, a back 270 out on the downrail, a hand drag 360 over the rainbow rail and a right double cork 1080 mute, a left double cork 1260 tail and a switch rightside double cork 900 on the jump section.
"I'm just insanely happy to be here," Goepper said after winning. "It's really, really surreal and I didn't even imagine this is how the day would go, but I'm just happy to be down here in New Zealand. It's one of my favorite places to be."
England's James Woods, who was leading until the final run, took second with a score of 92.0, followed closely by Australia's Russ Henshaw in third with a 91.0.
FIS World Cup at Winter Games NZ ~ Women's Slopestyle
|1||Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen||91.0|
FIS World Cup at Winter Games NZ ~ Men's Slopestyle