New Zealand ski racer Adam Barwood – Queenstown’s sole Winter Olympian – has capped off a memorable few days for the Kiwis.
Barwood, who last year hadn’t even set this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics as a goal, finished in the top half of the field at last night’s Giant Slalom, claiming 44th overall out of 109 starters.
His effort followed a startling result in the freeski halfpipe, with three Wanaka-based athletes coming in the top 10.
Jossi Wells led the charge, finishing agonisingly close to a medal in fourth, followed by his younger brother Beau-James in sixth and Lyndon Sheehan in ninth.
The trio’s top ten finishes were even more impressive given the country’s brightest hope in the event – Byron Wells – was sidelined by injury.
Queenstowner Barwood, 21, did his first Giant Slalom run on the Sochi course in 1:28:51, which was 7.43 seconds behind leader Ted Ligety.
But it was enough to qualify for a second run – only the top 79 went through, with Barwood – the NZ national Slalom and GS champ – sitting in 49th out of 109 racers.
His final run time of 1:28.89 gave him a combined time of 2:57.40 for 44th overall.
Afterwards Adam confirms he was “pretty happy with how everything went” and he’d met a personal performance goal.
“I was going to be really happy if I moved up (in the rankings) and skied as well as I could.”
Adam will now turn his attention to his preferred Slalom discipline with his race scheduled for this Saturday. The first runs are live on Sky Sport 4 at 1.40am on Sunday, followed by finals at 5.10am.
“It’s almost a bit of a relief to get the first race out of the way and finish well, so now I can just focus on the Slalom,” Barwood says.
Ligety, from the United States, won the Giant Slalom gold, while France’s Steve Missillier was second and Alexis Pinturault – also of France – took bronze.
Jossi Wells, after his fourth, says: “I’m feeling pretty happy. I definitely skied the best pipe runs I’ve done ever.
“I’m really happy with how I skied tonight; that’s what I came out here to do. I didn’t have any expectation tonight. To land those runs I did I was really, really happy. To come fourth is pretty cool for me for a pipe event, I haven’t really been riding a whole lot of pipe recently.”
Meanwhile, Beau-James Wells adds: “I’ve never felt this good in my life. I just came sixth at the Olympics in halfpipe so I’m amazed, I’m so stoked.
“This is the number one proudest moment I’ve ever had. I’ve never felt this great before ever.”