Battle for medals in Games ski race in Queenstown

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A Swiss skier took the honours in the Women’s Giant Slalom race at Queenstown after a close battle between top seeds.

Wendy Holdener, 20, won gold after seeing off Russia’s Anastasia Romanova and Austria’s Christine Scheyer at Coronet Peak on Tuesday – day six of the Winter Games.

Holdener, ranked 52 in the word, was lying third after the first run clocking 55.09 behind Scheyer’s 54.88.

But the Swiss youngster showed her class and put the hammer down in the second run for a 55.70 and combined 1.50.88 for gold.

“The first race was no so good, the second better, and I’m happy now to win this race,” Holdener says.

“It’s a good feeling. The race was very tough, very bumpy.

“It’s nice to be here in New Zealand. I trained hard.”

Romanova finished in 1.51.30 2, while Scheyer was just behind in 1.51.43 3.

The 73-strong field was the largest for at least a decade the Women’s Giant Slalom FIS Australia New Zealand Cup.

Chairman of the FIS Australia New Zealand Cup Committee David Howden.

“We had top ranked athletes here representing 16 different nations and you would be hard pressed to see another field of this calibre.

“It is an indication that the athletes and their coaches are focused on the Sochi Olympics and the Winter Games ANC event offered a chance for many of them to make some good results.”

Howden was impressed with the work of the Coronet Peak race crew who managed to put together a course in extremely challenging conditions just as they had done for the men’s giant slalom event on Monday (August 19).

“When we checked the course early this morning it was misty, and the bottom section was softening up due to warm temperatures, but the crew worked hard to make it happen and the course held up well for the two runs.”

Fifty racers finished the course and first New Zealander was national representative, 17-year-old Piera Hudson, who finished 33rd in 1.56.64.

Hudson is ranked 661 in giant slalom, but is sub-300 in the world in Super G, on a ranking of 297.

“I was disappointed as I had hoped to make the top 30 in the first run but it didn’t happen today,” Hudson says.

Meanwhile, undefeated teams New Zealand and Korea clashed in the feature match of the curling tournament at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International rink that morning.

The sides were tied after the regulation ten ends, but the home side scored the vital point in an extra end to record a 5-4 victory in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.

New Zealand skip Peter de Boer says: “As soon as we got a few rocks in play and really started to curl against them we started to get the upper hand.

“It’s great to get through the first round undefeated, so we’ll just keep working away and see where it takes us.”

In another important game Japan beat China 10-8. Australia beat New Zealand “A” 9-7 that morning to record their first win.

In Monday night’s round, Japan beat NZ “A” 13-5, Korea controlled the second half of their match against China to record a 7-4 victory, and New Zealand stole two in the last end to sneak home 7-6 over Australia.

At the halfway stage of the double round robin New Zealand remain undefeated on 5 wins, followed by Korea 4, Japan 3, China 2, Australia 1 and New Zealand “A” yet to register a win.

New Zealand’s Mixed Doubles side had a strong start to their game against England in the early morning session, and then withstood a strong English comeback to win 9-6.

Japan took control from the outset to beat Australia “A” 10-2, and Australia did the same in their 7-2 win over China.

Australia, China, New Zealand and NZ “A” sit at the top of a congested leaderboard, all with just one loss.

Three rounds of games remain before the semi-finalists are found.

Curling at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ continues at Naseby’s Maniototo Curling International rink this evening, with round robin matches continuing in the Men’s Fours and Mixed Doubles through until Thursday. Semi-finals and finals will be played on Friday.