Junior ski cross champs whiz down Cardrona course

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Young snow stars were zipping down New Zealand’s first international ski cross race course at the Junior World Champs yesterday.

Local talent couldn’t compete with the sport’s top teenagers, with European athletes dominating the podium at Cardrona, bar one Australian medal winner in the ladies chase.

Switzerland’s Fanny Smith was crowned ski cross queen ahead of Australia’s Katrin Ofner in second and Russian Yulia Livinskaya third.

In the men’s competition, Norwegian Didrik Bastian Juell took out the ski cross world title, beating teammate Morten Ring Christensen and Russia’s Georgy Kornilov in third place.

Speedster Juell, third going into the final, was shocked with his win.

“In the final, there was a bit of contact at the start but I came out of that OK and for the rest of the final I kept waiting for someone to overtake me but they never did. It’s amazing and I never expected this – it’s quite a shock,” Juell says.

Five of the six-strong NZ women’s team made it through to the quarter finals and Wanaka’s Mikayla Austin was the top-placed local in 11th place.

Kiwi lads Benjamin Jamieson and Richard Stevens qualified for the quarterfinals, finishing 12th and 13th.

Fresh snow overnight affected starting times for tricksters in the halfpipe contest supposed to be held at Cardrona this morning.

The Junior World Champs will wrap up after 10 days of elite snow events with snowboarding moves in the big air competition at Cardrona on Tuesday.