AJ Kemppainen and Devin Logan top pipe podium at Winter Games NZ
Though the action went down a world away, at New Zealand’s Cardrona Ski Resort, this weekend’s superpipe showdown—part of the Winter Games NZ—signified one very exciting thing: the 2013/14 competition season is underway.
A Platinum level AFP event, and a sanctioned FIS World Cup, the event was decidedly high-stakes. Big-time AFP points were on the line, along with the ever-so-valuable FIS points. And with the Sochi Winter Games drawing near, the points race is more exciting to follow than ever before.
Amid stormy conditions on Saturday, competitors were limited to a best-of-one-run format. On the men’s side, Finland’s Antti-Jussi (AJ) Kemppainen took top honors, while USA’s own Aaron Blunck and Taylor Seaton followed up in second and third, respectively.
AJ’s winning run consisted of a right wall switch 9 to open, a switch right 7 mute, 9 tail, right 9 tail and a cork 5 tail to close. AJ was quoted as saying, “[The win] was a pretty big surprise for the start of the season.”
Blunck skied his way to second place with a right 9 tail, left 10 tail, switch right 7, alley-lop flat 5, right 7 and switch 5. “The weather [Saturday] was not so good,” he said. “It kept coming in waves of being super cloudy, foggy and terrible weather… and the next thing you know, it’s sunshine for training, and then runs start back up, and it gets windier and gets worse and worse… but everyone had to deal with the same conditions, and it just kind of came down to who could put down a run.”
Seaton earned his bronze medal spot with a switch 5, switch left 7, alley-oop flat 5, left 9, right 9 and alley-oop 7 to close.
For the ladies, USA’s Devin Logan earned top spot—an impressive feat given this was her first return to competition since undergoing knee surgery nearly one year ago. Devin secured her gold medal with a run that included a 5 tail, a flair, a 7 and a switch 3. “[Saturday] wasn’t the ideal day for pipe finals,” she said, “but it happens in the sport, and we got one run, and luckily I put down a good first run and got the victory… I’m feeling good.”
Angeli Vanlaanen finished second with a 5 mute, a right 5, a 7, switch 3 and an alley-oop 3. “It was super foggy and windy… it was an hour before I had to take my first run,” Angeli explained. “It was pretty gnar out there and I’m just happy to have put down a run. I did my best.”
Switzerland’s Mirjam Jaeger snagged third place with a run that consisted of a lofty straight air Japan, an alley-oop, a 5, another straight air mute, an alley-oop to alley-oop 3, and a switch 3 to close.
Video of the top runs can be found here. Action continues from Cardrona on the 23rd, with ski slopestyle qualifiers. The slopestyle finals are slated for August 25.
Winter Games NZ, Ski Superpipe, Men’s Final Results:
1. AJ Kemppainen (FIN) 86.6
2. Aaron Blunck (USA) 83.8
3. Taylor Seaton (USA) 79.4
4. Lyndon Sheehan (NZL) 76.4
5. Alex Ferreira (USA) 71.0
6. Yannic Lerjen (SUI) 65.4
7. Nicolas Bijasson (FRA) 60.0
8. Thomas Krief (FRA) 47.6
9. Mike Riddle (CAN) 33.3
10. Peter Crook (IVB) 29.4
11. Beau-James Wells (NZL) 22.0
12. Justin Dorey (CAN) 9.4
Winter Games NZ, Ski Superpipe, Women’s Final Results:
1. Devin Logan (USA) 84.6
2. Angeli Vanlaanen (USA) 80.0
3. Mirjam Jaeger (SUI) 74.8
4. Katrien Aerts (BEL) 65.2
5. Annalisa Drew (USA) 65.0
6. Nina Ragettli (SUI) 62.4
7. Jamie Crane-Mauzy (USA) 61.0
8. Amy Sheehan (AUS) 56.8
9. Maggie Stout (USA) 51.4
10. Janina Kuzma (NZL) 47.8
11. Ayana Onozuka (JPN) 29.0
12. Anais Caradeux (FRA) 15.6