{mosimage}After an entertaining opening ceremony in Queenstown last Friday, there was jubilation at Dunedin Ice Stadium on Saturday night as the New Zealand ice hockey team beat Australia for the very first time. The Ice Blacks took the two-match series on a penalty shootout.

Home success continued the next day as Stef Zeestraten and Shelly Gotlieb won the women and men’s snowboard slopestyle at The Remarkables. Flying Kiwi Jossi Wells had already scooped silver in freeski slopestyle behind Thomas Wallisch of the USA, with Anna Segal grabbing gold for Australia in the women’s event. Wells will appear with more of the world’s best freeskiers at Cardrona on Saturday for the halfpipe comp.

Team Canada dominated the cross-country skiing at Snow Farm with national coach Inge Bråten commending the course and the competition. Three-time Olympian Sarah Renner, who won two golds, is just one of the country’s top athletes using Winter Games NZ to gain valuable off-season training ahead of next year’s Winter Olympics in their home country.
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Japanese athletes shone in adaptive cross-country skiing that took place simultaneously on the same course. Kozo Kubo (sit-ski) and Shoko Ota (standing) pulled off a hat trick of victories in the men and women’s classic, sprint and freestyle races respectively.

The fine weather greeting the opening days of competition changed mid-week but high winds and whiteout could not prevent American snowboarder Shaun White achieving arguably the best performance of Winter Games NZ so far with two heart-stopping runs in the men’s snowboard halfpipe. Chinese teenage superstar Liu Jiayu scooped gold in the women’s event with no less aplomb.

Bad weather forced cancellation of ski-cross yesterday but some thrilling snowboard-cross races earlier in the week saw German David Speiser and Natsuko Doi winning gold at Cardrona’s purpose-built course.
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In the alpine skiing events at Coronet Peak, Britt Janyk (Canada) and Jake Zamansky (USA) won the Super G races. Queenstown’s Tim Cafe lowered his world ranking in great style with fifth place. Matts Olsson headed a Swedish one-two in an exciting men’s giant slalom yesterday with Jimmy Cochrane of the USA taking bronze.

Adaptive and women’s giant slalom plus all three slalom races remain at Coronet Peak which is also the venue for Sunday’s awesome big air events and glittering closing ceremony.

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