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NZ Freeski Open: The winners are...

9/4/2011

The halfpipe event of The North Face Freeski Open went down Saturday at New Zealand's Snowpark NZ. Taylor Seaton reigned supreme in the men's finals with a run consisting of the only switch drop-in -- a switch 720 truck driver, right 900 mute grab, left 900 tail grab, alley oop 540 blunt, right alley oop 540 tail grab. David Wise, who was going huge all day, placed second, and Gus Kenworthy came in third.

Seaton broke his boot on his last semi final run and actually competed in the finals on a ski boot cuff he borrowed from a fellow skier. "I was so lucky," Seaton said. "I thought my day was over when I broke my boot. It's amazing that I ended up winning."

The women went straight to a three run final, and it was Devin Logan who stole the show, with a winning run of a Japan air, left 540 tail grab, right flair, mute air, alley oop rodeo 540 and a feft 540. Second and third places went to NZ's Amy Sheehan and Janina Kuzma, who's normally known for her big-mountain skiing. "I've focused on my big mountain career until now, but I've always loved skiing halfpipe and it's exciting to get back into it," said Kuzma.

Unfortunately, NZ Freeski Open slopestyle winner Jossi Wells was forced to watch from the sideline after experiencing knee pain during practice. "It's nothing serious, but I know my body pretty well, and it's not worth risking an injury," said Wells. "The Northern Hemisphere comp season starts in a couple of weeks, and I want to make sure I'm ready."

Impressed with the standard of skiing, head judge Rafael Regazzoni said, "You know, at the start of the day we weren't so sure that we were going to see too many really technical tricks. The wind was really strong in the morning, but when it died down, riders started going crazy."

The slopestyle finals were held Friday, and there was no stopping Jossi Wells, who continued his winning form from the semi finals the day before. Known as one of the most stylish skiers on the planet, Wells was so convincing on his second run -- lip-slide disaster to switch on the down-flat-down rail, switch 270 onto 450 off on the rainbow box, and switch right 900 tailgrab, left double cork 1260 mute grab on the kickers -- that it earned him a victory lap as his final run. Second and third places went to Canadian brothers Charles and Vincent Gagnier, respectively. Always one to be different, older brother Charles included a rail trick in his run, so unique that it left judges scratching their heads, eventually simply naming the trick the "Gagnier Slide."

Canadian Kim Lamarre won the women's division with a super clean run, landing her over two points ahead of American Devin Logan. Lamarre's run consisted of a 270 onto the downrail, straight to switch on a rainbow box, followed by a switch left 540 safety grab and a left 540 mute grab on the kickers. NZ local Rose Battersby completed the podium in third place.