Seven medals for Ki­wis at Re­mark­ables

Central Otago Mirror - - OUT & ABOUT - OLIVIA CALDWELL

Seven Kiwi skiers and snow­board­ers grabbed medals in the North Face Fron­tier freeski and snow­board events down The Re­mark­ables on the sec­ond last day of the Win­ter Games NZ.

Hank Bil­bous, Sam Lee and Matthew Sweet rode in the men’s freeski for gold, sil­ver, and bronze re­spec­tively, dom­i­nat­ing their north­ern hemi­sphere coun­ter­parts; while in the women’s event Ki­wis Jes­sica Hot­ter and Anna Smoothy grabbed a sil­ver and bronze.

In the snow­board cat­e­gories Ki­wis Roland Mor­ley-Brown and Maria Kuzma won gold in the men’s and women’s re­spec­tively.

Wanaka’s Bil­bous, 19, was ec­static with his win on Fri­day say­ing he never ex­pected to be near the podium, let alone in first place.

The for­mer Mt As­pir­ing Col­lege stu­dent has been rid­ing the Re­mark­ables for over 12 years and had in­ves­ti­gated the course on Thurs­day ahead of the event.

‘‘There were so many sick rid­ers out there, any­one could have taken it out. I am pretty happy to come away with it. I’m not go­ing to lie; I am pretty chuffed,’’ he said.

’’I think with a full New Zealand podium it just shows the home town ad­van­tage, it’s such a great field of guys so for us to come out with a Kiwi top three I think shows the ben­e­fit of ski­ing this area so much.’’

His mother and pals had been vol­un­teer­ing up the moun­tain for the event, which Bil­bous said had egged him on to do well.

Bil­bous said upon ap­proach­ing his run he knew what he was go­ing to do and he had been ex­cited all week lead­ing up to it. It was the big­gest achieve­ment of his ski­ing ca­reer so far.

He has pre­vi­ously com­peted on the freeride world qual­i­fier with­out plac­ing, gained sec­ond at the Ver­bier freeride week two-star event and sixth at the Nen­daz freeride four-star.

The four-star event on the freeride world tour is the high­est rated, which will give all of the suc­cess­ful Ki­wis ex­tra points for the world­wide cir­cuit.

Mean­while Lee, also of Wanaka, is ranked sixth in the world and was com­pet­ing for the first time at the Win­ter Games on Fri­day.

Smoothy is cur­rently New Zealand’s top-ranked freeride skier, while Hot­ter was placed last in the two-star event ear­lier this week.

NEIL KERR

Sam Lee, of Wanaka, on his way to sec­ond place at the North Face Fron­tier FWQ 4 Star, at The Re­mark­ables last week.

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