Vail’s Seaton wins New Zealand Games halfpipe |

Vail’s Seaton wins New Zealand Games halfpipe

Daily Staff Report
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail's Taylor Seaton enjoys the view at the top of the podium Saturday after winning the New Zealand Winter Games halfpipe competition.

CADRONA, New Zealand – The weather at the New Zealand Winter Games Saturday and the skies turned golden for Vail freeskier Taylor Seaton.

Seaton took gold in the men’s freeskiing competition with a score of 84.20 points out of 100. The victory capped a successful New Zealand season for the Vail resident following his second-place in the New Zealand Freeski Open at the same venue nine days before.

“The weather turned out good and this is definitely my best trip to New Zealand,” Seaton said. “Competing here means I can go home and start next season off real strong.”

The winner of that event, local favorite Jossi Wells, couldn’t repeat his success at the Winter Games and pulled out early into his first run.

“It’s all part of the game,” he said, clearly disappointed not to put on a show for his home crowd. “I injured my knee in the slopestyle and knew after the first hit that it wasn’t going to hold up. Hopefully I can make it to the big air tomorrow.”

David Wise of the USA came second in the men’s event with 80.80 after nailing a double flare in his second run – one of the tricks of the day. This pushed Xavier Bertoni of France into third place by just 0.2 points. The reigning X Games champion and current FIS world No. 2 matched Wise’s back-to-back 9s but was just shaded out by the American’s style.

Lyndon Sheehan of Wanaka was the top Kiwi, flying into fifth place with a great first run. Jossi’s younger brothers, Byron, 17, and Beau-James, 13, finished 11th and 15th respectively. Olly Allan was 17th while Andy Bowie tied for last place with world No. 1 Kevin Rolland from France who couldn’t land some huge tricks in the gusty conditions.

In the women’s event, close friend of Seaton, Swiss skier Mirjam Jaeger was a clear winner marking a successful return from injury. She scored 83.80, five points ahead of Rosalind Groenewoud. Fellow Canadian, Dania Assaly just edged FIS world number two Anais Caradeux from France out of the medals.

Mirjam Jaeger said, “I just feel great – what else is there to say? I’m super stoked right now. I love New Zealand. I’m definitely going to be back next year.”

Head judge Phil Larose was impressed by the competition at Cardrona.

“It went super well. Organization here was really professional and the athletes felt very comfortable – as if they were competing at X-Games.

“Taylor pulled it all together today and ran really well from top to bottom. Despite the strong wind that held some competitors back he had great amplitude and wasn’t conservative.

Seatons tarted his trip well by taking second place in the New Zealand Freeskiing Open last weekend. Taylor went down to New Zealnd in late July to train.

After taking first place in qualifying in the New Zealnd Open he was squeezed out of first place by Wells. Taylor was the only rider dropping in switch (backwards), securing his second-place finish while Finland’s A.J. Kemppainen finished in third place.

“This is the fourth year I have competed here, but my first time on the podium,” said Seaton. “The comp was run for the riders, which is like it should be. I loved the good vibes, the reggae music and the overall running of the event.”

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