Warner Nickerson captures the New Zealand Winter Games giant slalom win (Camilla Stoddart/Getty Images)
CORONET PEAK, New Zealand (Aug. 22 - Ski Racing Magazine News Service) Much as he did last season Warner Nickerson has turned an August New Zealand ski race into a low point opportunity as he collected the win in the opening salvo of the NZ Winter Games in a GS at Cornet Peak with Colby Granstrom on the podium in third and five Americans packed into the top 10 finishers. Those results pleased coach Peter Korfiatis no end considering where the guys were starting.
“This is a Continental Cup,” said Korfiatis, “so anyone without Continental Cup points starts outside of the first seed. While our buys have essentially better FIS and world ranking, they were starting in the 28, 38, 48 range and that makes it difficult to hammer in there and stay close to that leader.”
The leader, as it turned out, was Nickerson who started 11th. “I was pleased with the first run but the second was difficult,” he said. “The snow didn't hold up super-well and I just had to keep fighting it the whole was down. I did that and here I am in the winning spot.”
For Granstrom, in third behind Austrian Marcel Mathis, the race and result helped put a capper on a productive camp. Starting 27th Granstrom said, "It feels awesome to performed well in a Europa Cup caliber field. It was also really cool to accept the bronze medal in downtown Queenstown. It was a great honor and a little bit of a surprise. I am still along away from my goals this season, so the hunger is still there, but it does relieve a little stress to have success this early in the year."
Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Will Gregorak tied for seventh the former from the 40th start. Dave Chodounsky was ninth. David Donaldson again led the Canadians, but was in 11th.
The U.S. group is nearing the end of their camp and both coaches and athletes seem pleased with the work accomplished.
Koriatis said, “Camp itself has been very productive for sure. The weather cooperated, all the hills we worked on were in great shape. It's been a great mixture, we're right on pace with volume... huge amount of runs and we're not seeing effects of fatigue. Better yet, we'll know what to do next year.”
Granstrom added, “The training has been spectacular, I came into this camp with a back injury but was able to get a lot done and get substantially faster. We have had really nice injection the entire camp and it has been extremely productive."