The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand men's and women's halfpipe podium. 1.Tanner Hall 2.Torin Yater-Wallace (left) 3.Benoit Valentin (right). 1.Tiril Christiansen 2.Angeli VanLaanen (left) 3.Katrien Aerts (right). (Steele Spence/AFP)
WANAKA, New Zealand (Sept. 1) – A long anticipated comeback by freesking legend and seven-time X Games gold medalist Tanner Hall (Kalispell, MT) resulted in halfpipe victory Saturday at The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand. Hall had not competed since 2009 when he broke both of his tibial plateaus and tore both ACLs at a film shoot. He had been rumored to be planning a return this season in hopes of making the 2014 U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Team. The comeback was complete as Hall won the weather shortened one run final over Torin Yater-Wallace (Basalt, CO). Angeli VanLaanen (Bellingham, WA), who had also been sidelined from competition since 2009 when she was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease nearly matched Hall with second behind Norwegian Tiril Christiansen in the women's event.
Tanner Hall (Kalispell, MT) took the win at The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand in his first competition in four years.
In May of 2009, Hall fractured his both tibial plateaus and tore both ACLs at a film shoot.
Hall is a seven-time X Games champion and the only skier to three-peat in both halfpipe and slopestyle.
Angeli VanLaanen (Bellingham, WA) also completed a comeback with second behind Tiril Christiansen of Norway.
VanLaanen’s last competition was in early 2009 when she was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease.
Torin Yater-Wallace (Basalt, CO) was nipping at Hall’s heels and took second. U.S. Freeskiing Rookie Team member Annalisa Drew (Andover, MA) was fifth.
At the last minute men’s finals were taken down from a three runs to one run due to fog and gusting winds.
Next up is the first FIS World Cup slopestyle of the season at Ushaia, Argentina Sept. 6-7. It will also be the first qualifying event toward the sports addition in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
QUOTES Tanner Hall I am so stoked to be back after four years of not competing, and coming back to win The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand is the best feeling ever.