New Zealand snowboarder Christy Prior has won the gold medal at the last qualifying event ahead of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games kicking off in fewer than two weeks time.
Her winning performance comes on the back of Jossi Wells' gold medal yesterday in Gstaad, Switzerland in freeski slopestyle and is another positive step in New Zealand's countdown to the games.
Competing in the snowboard slopestyle discipline at the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup in Stoneham, Canada Christy took a convincing win, scoring 89.75 ahead of Dutch rider Cheryl Maas in second with 85.25 and Austrian Anna Gasser in third with 84.25.
The win marks Christy’s first major result at a FIS World Cup and took place against what Winter Performance Programme Director Ashley Light describes as “a reasonably tough field” despite the absence of the US team. “This result will give Christy a good confidence boost as she looks to build momentum through to the Olympic Games,” commented Ashley Light.
“This indicates that Christy is now starting to fulfill her true potential.”
Speaking after the event, Christy said she was “relieved and really thankful,” to have landed her gold medal winning run.
Christy placed second in her qualifying heat earlier in the week allowing her to leap frog the semi-finals competition and progress straight to finals. “The pressure was intense for qualifiers but I landed a run that was consistent and so went straight through to finals,” she explained. (Listen to full interview here) Team mate Rebecca Torr placed fourth in her qualifying heat allowing her to progress to semi-finals where she placed fifth, missing out on finals.
The Stoneham competition concludes the qualification process for New Zealand's Olympic athletes and the nomination process for Sochi 2014 Olympic Games selection will get underway this week pending final confirmation of national quota spot allocations.
Results from the FIS Snowboard World Cup Slopestyle: http://www.fis-ski.com/snowboard/freestyle-snowboard/events-and-places/event=33290/race=11084/index.html
The New Zealand Olympic Team is expected to be made up of around 14 athletes across both ice and snow sports with the majority of athletes competing in the freeski and snowboard events.
The Sochi Olympic Games take place 7 – 23 February 2014.