Following yesterday’s highly-competitive slopestyle finals, the Volkl NZ Freeski Open held the halfpipe leg of the contest today at Cardrona Ski Resort. While the contest might not have attracted the appearance of top pipe threats like Simon Dumont or Kevin Rolland, a new group of halfpipe skiers are quietly building not only their skills, but their confidence.
Taylor Seaton of Vail, CO, earned the win today in Wanaka to improve on his 2nd place finish at last year’s event. While Seaton may not be super well-known in the mainstream yet, he has been in the freestyle ski game for a while now, but has struggled with a slew of injuries in recent years. Before blowing his ankle, many observers pegged Seaton as one to watch heading into the 2009-2010 competition season, especially after his win at the 2009 NZ Winter Games. The Armada Skis team member worked hard to rehab his ankle, and was set to compete at Winter X Games this January, but fell awkwardly in practice causing liver damage and some internal bleeding. But once again, Seaton is back like a true warrior and ready to prove himself.
Following Seaton on the podium was local boy Byron Wells, one of the many talented skiers in the Wells family, and Noah Bownman.
Get to know Taylor Seaton with this video recap of his 2008-2009, before his injury:
1st – Taylor Seaton
2nd – Byron Wells
3rd – Noah Bownman
4th – AJ Kemppainen
5th – Pat Baskins
6th – Bobby Brown
Bobby Brown is a machine. It’s no secret the NZ Freeski Open isn’t on the same level as the Winter X Games, but it’s none-the-less a major ski contest that regularly attracts some of the top pros in the game. Brown’s seemingly out of nowhere 6th place finish is very impressive considering he is largely known for his supreme big air skills. Could Brown be training for a potential 2014 Olympic run at Sochi? With halfpipe looking more than probable, and slopestyle pretty questionable, it will be interesting to see if more freestyle skiers adopt a similar, increased focus on boosting their pipe skills until a final decision is announced.