Goepper, Sjåstad Christiansen top Winter Games NZ slope podium

Comments by Henrik Lampert/

Sunday, at Cardrona Resort in New Zealand, the 2013 Winter Games NZ came to a close with the conclusion of the men’s and women’s slopestyle finals. The NZ Games—an AFP Platinum level contest and sanctioned FIS World Cup—mark the opening of the 2013/14 competition season. And what better way to kick off the AFP World Tour than with a high-stakes show?

On the men’s side, Indiana boy Nick Goepper took top honors, with GBR’s James Woods taking second and Australia’s Russ Henshaw securing third.

While Woods was leading up until the very last run of the day—with a first run score of 92.0—Goepper stepped in with a switch 3 to 180 over the wall ride; front swap, back two-sev’ out of the down rail; hand drag 3 over the rainbow; and on the jumps, right double cork 10 mute, left double cork 12 tail and switch right double 9 screamin’, earning an even 94, securing the gold.

“I’m just insanely happy to be here,” said Goepper following the contest, as reported by Winter Games NZ. “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 and I couldn’t be happier.”

Henshaw (AUS) rounded out the podium, bagging a score of 91.0. And it’s no surprise to see these three individuals grace the podium this weekend, as it was this very trio who finished the 2012/13 season atop the AFP slopestyle rankings.

For the women, Norwegian Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen locked down the win, with Canadian Dara Howell taking second, and German Lisa Zimmermann walking away with the bronze. As Eveline Bhend and Anna Vincenti registered DNS on the day, only six women contested the women’s final.

Tiril skied her way to a first-run score of 91.00, stomping a run that included a slide across the wall ride up top, switch lip onto the down rail, front 4′ off the canon—and on the jumps—a left 5 mute, switch right 9 tail and right 9 tail. Her score held through round two, granting her a victory lap on her second go-round. Howell earned second with a score of 84.4 and Zimmermann—the first female to stomp a double cork on skis—took third with an even 72.

“Not my best but I’ve just got to train harder,” said Tiril after the event, as reported by Winter Games NZ. “I put down two solid runs so I’m stoked.” Tiril—after exploding onto the scene in 2013 with an X Games win, along with earning the AFP Sarah Burke Trophy—continues to display a steady rate of progression; she’s poised for another outstanding season and is certainly among the favorites to score a medal in Sochi.

With the pages closed on Winter Games NZ, we now look ahead to The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand—an AFP Silver contest—slated to begin this week, also at Cardrona. From there, it’s onward to a handful of big air contests, including Thredbo’s One Hit Wonder Down Under, Freestyle.ch, Relentless Freeze and more.

See the full 2013/14 AFP World Tour calendar here.

With Sochi on the horizon, following the points race has never been so exciting. For updates on the FIS points ranking, click here. To see how this affects the AFP World Ranking, follow this link.

Winter Games NZ, Ski Slopestyle, Men’s Final Results:

1. Nick Goepper (USA) 94.0
2. James Woods (GBR) 92.0
3. Russ Henshaw (AUS) 91.0
4. Jesper Tjåder (SWE) 85.0
5. McRae Williams (USA) 84.2
6. Willie Bor, (USA) 81.6
7. PK Hunder (NOR) 81.4
8. Gus Kenworthy (USA) 81.2
9. Oscar Wester (SWE) 80.8
10. Johan Berg  (NOR) 78.0

See full results

Winter Games NZ, Ski Slopestyle, Women’s Final Results:

1. Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen (NOR) 91.0
2. Dara Howell (CAN) 84.4
3. Lisa Zimmermann (GER) 72.0
4. Maggie Voisin (USA) 68.2
5. Devin Logan (USA) 41.8
6. Dania Assaly (CAN) 21.0

See full results

Related: AJ Kemppainen and Devin Logan top pipe podium at Winter Games NZ