Australian Institute of Sport / NSW Institute of Sport athletes, Holly Crawford, the silver medallist in this year’s World Championships, and Nathan Johnstone, ranked in the top 10 in the world, both finished seventh in the event which was part of the annual New Zealand Winter Games.
Nineteen-year-old NSWIS rider Scott James went one better placing sixth today, equalling his best World Cup result, after qualifying in equal sixth spot in the 61 man field and advanced through to the final with the fourth highest score in his semi-final.
Adding to the encouragement for the Australians, seventeen-year-old Kent Callister, who is also striving to win team selection for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia next February, qualified in equal sixth place, but was unable to maintain his level in his semi-final, missing the cut for the final and finishing 16th overall.
Defending Olympic champion, Torah Bright, trained in New Zealand but elected not to compete.
The women’s final was won by America’s Kelly Clark, followed by China’s Xuetong Cai in second place and American Gretchen Bleiler was in the bronze medal position.
Japanese riders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka were first and second in the men's draw while Switzerland’s Christian Haller placed third.
AIS snowboard halfpipe coach Ben Alexander said that although the squad would have preferred higher finishes, they will return to Australia with a number of positive outcomes and a clear indication that progress has been made towards a strong showing in Russia next year.
“We’re looking at the big picture,” Alexander said.
“We’re now getting back into competition mode. I wouldn’t say the results are outstanding but they were solid and they show that we are definitely moving in the right direction.
“The guys are in good shape and we are now looking to a great training camp in late September.”
The snowboard halfpipe squad will journey back to New Zealand for four weeks from September 23 and return to the World Cup stage in December.