Wells, Zimmermann top podiums at FIS Freestyle World Cup from Gstaad, Switzerland

Comments by Donny O'Neill/

In the first of two FIS Freestyle World Cup slopestyle events taking place in Europe this season, Jossi Wells (NZL) and Lisa Zimmermann (GER) each took home wins in Gstaad, Switzerland this past Saturday. Rounding out the top three for the men were Jesper Tjader (SWE), and Fabian Boesch (SUI). Standing next to Zimmermann on the women’s podium were Katie Summerhayes (GBR), and Silvia Bertagna (ITA). Announcements regarding Olympic team selections have already come from the United States and Canada, and should be coming from various other national ski associations in the coming days.

Press Release, Gstaad, Switzerland:

The first of two European slopestyle contests scheduled for the 2013/14 World Cup season took place in Gstaad (SUI) on Saturday in a busy weekend for FIS Freestyle as we wrap up the last few days of the qualification period for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The ladies event saw 17 year old Lisa Zimmermann (GER) cruise to an impressive victory, locking down a score of 91.20 that proved to be unapproachable for any of the other ladies in the field. Zimmermann’s combination of technical jibs, big spins, and inimitable style is proving to be tough to reckon with, and she now sits at the top of the slopestyle World Cup leader board with 205 points.

As the top qualifier Zimmermann was the last lady to drop in on the day, and with the contest already in the bag before her last run she took the opportunity to go for a victory lap, pirouetting like the figure skater she used to be on the box feature before sliding down the landing of the final jump on her stomach.

2nd place on the day went to Katie Summerhayes (GBR), for the second World Cup podium of her career. It’s been a good season through 2013/14 for the British freestyle team, and Summerhayes may be another one of that nations slopestyle and halfpipe athletes with the potential to compete for medals in Sochi.

Behind Summerhayes was Silvia Bertagna (ITA), scoring not just her first podium, but also the first-ever slopestyle World Cup podium for Italy.

In the men’s event, Jossi Wells (NZL) was able to hold off a last-run charge by top qualifier Jesper Tjader (SWE) to lock down his first ever World Cup win. Wells stomped two of the most solid runs of the day and looked to be enjoy himself despite being on a course he had derided earlier in the week via Twitter. Throwing a double-corked left side 1260 followed by back-to-back switch 1080s, Wells looked relaxed and smooth through both his runs.

“I came out here to get some World Cup points and earn New Zealand another quota spot for Sochi,” said Wells, “And I did that yesterday by qualifying (for finals), so I came out here today and just wanted to ski my best and hopefully land myself a spot on the podium. So landed my run and ended up up top, and I’m really happy.”

Tjader had problems in his first run but came back hard in his second, and it seemed like his super technical run might be the one to bump the smooth New Zealander Wells from the top spot. However, it was too little too late by the slimmest of margins for Tjader, as he was awarded an 88.20, .2 behind Wells’ 88.40.

Fabian Boesch (SUI) locked down the lone podium for the host Swiss on the day, posting an 84.20 in his second run to edge countryman Jonas Hunziker.

With Gstaad in the bag, the athletes of the slopestyle World Cup tour have done all they can to make it to the debut of ski slopestyle at the Olympic Games. Announcements from the various national ski associations will be forthcoming over the next few days, and many of Saturday’s top athletes will be getting the nod to represent their countries in February.