Slovakian brothers, Engel take podium in NZ
Slovakian brothers Adam and Andreas Zampa dominated the podium at the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ Australia/New Zealand Cup giant slalom at Coronet Peak today, winning the gold and bronze medals respectively, while American Mark Engel claimed the silver in a field that included seven athletes ranked in the top 100 in the world.
The race was held in the Rocky Gully arena on the Davies Giant Slalom course and Chairman of the FIS Australia New Zealand Committee David Howden said after the postponement of the event on Sunday (August 18) due to unseasonal warm conditions it was good to complete the first ANC giant slalom on the calendar.
“It is a reflection of the commitment of the Coronet Peak race crew that they were able to produce such a great course in challenging conditions, they did an amazing job,” he said.
Winter Games NZ Alpine Manager, Wayne Cafe also paid tribute to the NZSki crew who had pulled out all stops to ensure the race was held.
“It was a huge challenge considering the warm temperatures Queenstown has been experiencing and they provided a world class course. There were some excellent results and exciting racing for spectators.”
A field of 71 representing 17 nationalities competed and Adam Zampa, 22, ranked 55 in the world had the fastest combined time in 1.46.93 finishing second in the first run in 52.48.behind top seed and 30th ranked Tim Jitloff, 28, of USA who clocked 52.22.
Fifty-six athletes made it through to the second run but first run leader Jitloff didn’t finish the course leaving the field open. It was Andrea Ballerin, 24, of Italy who had the fastest second run in 53.42 closely followed by Andreas Zampa, 20, in a quick 53.60 which was enough to give him a combined time of 1.47.49 and third place.
Engel, 21, who was ninth after the first run, took out second place in 1.47.13 to improve his world ranking of 116 and cap a good season, training with the Treble Cone Ski Academy, and winning the Treble Cone FIS giant slalom earlier this month.
Adam Zampa was happy with his performance but more excited about his brother Andreas’ result. “He killed it in the second run. I thought the course was really good, I made a small mistake in the second run but I am happy.”
It was the first podium finish in a race of Continental Cup level for Andreas, who was well back in 14th place after the first run, and he credited his father who is his coach for his result.
“Finally I made two good runs instead of just one. I am like 600 in the world at the moment and this will improve my world ranking a lot.”
It was a “gutting” day for New Zealand number one Ben Griffin, 26, who was lying third after the first run completing it in 52.70. Clocking a fast second run, disaster struck at the third to last gate when he fell, but recovered to finish in 54.96, giving him a combined time of 1.47.66 and fifth place.
While he achieved a personal best 13 point result, which will lower his current world ranking from 212 and aid him in his Sochi Olympic selection campaign, Griffin was disappointed that he could not represent New Zealand on the podium.
“Coronet Peak is my home ski area and that’s where you really want to ski well. I am obviously pleased to have a personal best result but it was gutting to fall so close to the finish.”
The women’s ANC alpine giant slalom will take place at Coronet Peak Tuesday.