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Anna Willcox hopes her
ascension in the sport of freestyle
slopestyle skiing continues
at the pace she has already
e New Zealander took up
slopestyle skiing only three years
ago and last night finished 15th
at the Olympics in Sochi.
She achieved her goal of
finishing in the top 16 and has
set her sights high for the 2018
games in PyeongChang, South
"I want to be podiuming at
the 2018 games," she said. "I ve
been in the sport for not even
an Olympic cycle. I m going to
have so much more to give in
four years and I m really looking
forward to representing my
Competing on the same course
used for the snowboard slopestyle
event at Sochi s Rosa Khutor
Extreme Park, the 22 female
skiers had two qualifying runs to
post their highest score with the
top 12 then progressing to finals.
e slopestyle course is laid up
in two parts with three rails at
the top and three large jumps at
the bottom. Skiers are judged on
difficulty of the run, execution of
tricks, amplitude over the jumps
and combinations of tricks and
Willcox scored a tidy 62.40 on
her first run and was sitting 12th
but had difficulty on her second
run and lost too much speed to
tackle the last two jumps --- only
the top score counts. She then
watched as others pushed her out
of a place in the final.
Willcox had decided to be more
aggressive on the second run in
the hope of qualifying for the
"As a developing athlete new
to the Olympics, Anna certainly
stood up and it was exciting
to see," winter performance
programme director Ashley
Light said. "She achieved what
she set out to do, landed her run
and achieved a credible result.
"Now that Anna knows that
she belongs at this level, in the
top 16, she can look forward to
Pyeong Chang in 2018 where
she can build on this result."
e event was won by
Canadian Dara Howell, who
scored an impressive 94.20 in the
final. It was also notable for the
heavy crash by fellow Canadian
Yuki Tsubota who is thought to
have fractured her jaw.
Jossi Wells, who is considered
New Zealand s best hope for a
medal in Sochi, will compete
in the men s slopestyle skiing
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
PICTURE: Brendon McMahon
Champion hopefuls in Hokitika
Karoro player Mary Keating carefully delivers a bowl during the West Coast Champion of Champions Triples at the Hokitika
bowling green yesterday. e tournament continues today.
American snowboarder Shaun White,
one of the biggest draws at the Winter
Olympics and favourite to win his third
straight halfpipe title, bowed out without
a medal today in the biggest upset of the
games so far.
e 27-year-old was criticised for
withdrawing from the slopestyle event
to avoid risk of injury and the strategy
backfired when Switzerland s Iouri
Podladtchikov was comfortably the
better jumper and twister in the floodlit
"I am disappointed," White said after
the event. "I hate the fact that I nailed it
in practice, but it happens. It s hard to be
e drama unfolded while the women
ski jumpers fought it out for the first-
ever Olympic medals, after campaigning
for 13 years to be included alongside the
Germany s Carina Vogt collapsed in
tears, then was mobbed by jubilant team-
mates, when her narrow win was confirmed
following a tense wait at the bottom of the
at brought to a close the fourth day of
thrilling competition at the February 7-23
games, with most of the action set among the
peaks of the Caucasus Mountains.
Mild temperatures left many competitors
complaining about poor snow conditions,
and the number of tumbles across disciplines
ranging from cross-country to freestyle skiing
slopestyle appeared to back them up.
e final training session for tomorrow s
women s downhill was cancelled due to
the conditions, and ahead of the Nordic
Combined competition on the same day,
American Bill Demong said of the snow: "It s
not even slushy, it s just mushy."
Temperatures are expected to rise to at least
15degC later this week, potentially posing
Darya Domracheva gave her rivals no
chance as she powered to victory in biathlon s
10km pursuit, becoming the first woman to
win a Winter Olympic gold for Belarus.
Germany s Natalie Geisenberger was as
dominant in securing victory in the women s
luge,but in a rare display of discord, compatriot
and silver medallist Tatjana Huefner said the
winner was favoured by her federation.
Teenager Dara Howell of Canada won the
inaugural women s freestyle skiing slopestyle.
Several skiers crashed out spectacularly,
including Howell s compatriot Yuki Tsubota,
who suffered a suspected broken jaw when
falling heavily in the final.
Howell paid tribute to freestyle skiing
pioneer Sarah Burke, who died in a training
accident in January 2012. e International
Olympic Committee (IOC) earlier banned
athletes from wearing stickers in her memory.
"She was such an inspiration to me and
everyone else in free skiing, I just think
that she would be so proud and happy," said
Howell. "It s truly an honour."
It was Canada s fourth gold of the games but
they trailed in the overall table after Norway
won both the men and women s cross-country
Russia lingered in seventh position with a
solitary gold, three silver and three bronze
e hosts are desperate to improve
on their woeful performance at the last
Winter Olympics in Vancouver when
just three gold medals left them ranked
President Vladimir Putin has staked
his personal and political reputation on
holding a successful games, and sporting
glory would go a long way to convincing
his countrymen that the project s huge
price tag was worth it.
Back in Sochi, Russian Olga Fatkulina
came close to an upset in the 500m
speed skating, but the overwhelming
favourite and world record holder, South
Korea s Lee Sang-hwa, retained her title
and left an army of home supporters in
the Adler Arena crestfallen.
e Olympic title coveted more than
any other in Russia would be the men s
ice hockey. e Russians, Canadians
and Americans were all paraded before
the world s media today, whipping up
a frenzy of anticipation before a single
puck had been shot.
"I participated in four Olympic Games and I
don t remember such an interest in ice hockey
players," former goaltending great Vladislav
Tretyak, now president of the Russian Ice
Hockey Federation, told reporters. Attention
was already turning to Saturday s mouth-
watering clash between the United States and
at game will bring back memories of the
"miracle on ice" at Lake Placid in 1980 when
a US team made up of amateur and college
players, stunned the dominant Soviets, who
had won five of the previous six Olympic
e Sochi Games have cost an estimated
$51 billion, making them the most expensive
Olympics ever, although that figure has been
questioned and would anyway include long
term infrastructure projects in the region.
e build-up to the games was
overshadowed by threats of militant violence,
an international outcry over a contentious
"anti-gay propaganda" law and allegations of
widespread corruption and profligacy.
Willcox aims high after finishing 15th
PICTURE: Getty Images
New Zealand s Anna Willcox competes in the women s freestyle
skiing slopestyle qualification at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park
at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
PICTURE: Getty Images
Shaun White competes in the men s
halfpipe at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
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