NZ Freeski Open hits Queenstown

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Decorated freeskiing legend Tanner Hall will lead an all-star field in the New Zealand Freeski Open – which hits Queenstown on Monday.

Seven-time Winter X Games gold medallist Hall – a slopestyle and superpipe specialist – is one of the top seeds for the 2012 event.

Qualifying rounds for the slopestyle and halfpipe categories get underway in Wanaka today (Wednesday) – with the Big Mountain category due to be held at The Remarkables from Monday.

The open is one of the top 10 freeskiing events on the planet and gives the world’s best freeskiers their first opportunity to lock down points on the AFP World Tour.

“This is the only event in the world listed on both the AFP and FWT [governing bodies] world tours,” a spokesman says.

“So it brings a mix of freestyle and freeride skiers together into one exciting event.”

The Open will be Hall’s first competition since overshooting a jump at Stevens Pass, Washington, in 2009 and suffering tibial plateau fractures and ACL tears in both knees.

Four-time Winter X Games gold medallist Bobby Brown – who competes in slopestyle and big air disciplines – is also on the roster.

And Wanaka former world number one freeskier Jossi Wells and brother Byron will also compete.

They will battle it out with Kiwi star Lyndon Sheehan, Australian 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships Anna Segal, Russ Henshaw and The North Face athletes Tom Wallisch, Devin Logan, Janina Kuzma and Charlie Timmins and about 140 other skiers.

The slopestyle and halfpipe disciplines, held at Snowpark NZ, Wanaka, will run from today to Saturday, September 1, with finals on Friday and Saturday.

The Big Mountain competition will be held at a mystery venue within The Remarkables, Queenstown, from Monday to Saturday.