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