The Australia New Zealand Cup has finished up its abbreviated series at Coronet Peak. The series saw three USA athletes and one Canadian win eight of the 12 races, and eight different North Americans stood on the podium 18 times.
On the 27th of August, the women and men contested two ANC Super-G races each. The women were the first to race. Two athletes represented the USA and the Canadians entered four. Canadian Candace Crawford from the Georgian Peaks ski team took the victory. The other North Americans finishing were Canadian Leonie Schoenherr in 5th and US athlete Alexis Ordway in 9th. The other three were unable to complete the course.
The first ANC Super-G saw former USST athlete, 5th place, Sam Dupratt make his long-awaited return to competition. Dupratt broke both legs in the Val Gardena World Cup in 2020. Local favorite, Olympian, Willis Feasey won the competition finishing directly in front of the three Slovakian Zampa brothers. The only other American to finish was Thomas Mennen, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, with a strong 10th place
The second women’s ANC Super-G contested that day saw the first US Super-G podium in the series. Although Canadian Crawford won again with another strong performance, USST athlete Ava Sunshine Jemison was second, finishing in front of World Cup star and local legend 3rd place Alice Robinson. This marked the first podium for Robinson since her switch from Völkl to Salomon skis. However, the 2nd place finish for Jemison, sandwiched between two veteran World Cup skiers and Olympians, had to bring confidence. Two other North Americans, Canadian Schoenherr 5th and US Ordway 9th finished with strong top ten results.
The second men’s ANC Super-G saw local Olympian Feasey win again, this time in front of the oldest Zampa brother Adam. However, former USST athlete Garret Driller, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, experienced the first ANC podium of his career in 3rd. Dupratt improved one place from his first result to finish 4th and Mennen improved to 7th.
ANC Giant Slaloms
The first GS races of the series happened August 29th. In the women’s race, Crawford completed three consecutive victories in a row. However, 2nd place went to USST, Rowmark athlete Katie Hensien and third place was awarded to Riikka Honkanen of Finland. USST’s Jemison accumulated significant ANC points, finishing 4th, and three other North Americans finished in the points. Isabella Amico, USA St. Lawrence University, finished 15th, Canadian Schoenherr was 21st, and USA Ordway finished 23rd.
In the first men’s GS, Isaiah Nelson continued to impress by winning his first-ever Continental Cup GS. Nelson narrowly defeated Norwegian World Cup athlete Timon Haugan who skied into 2nd place in his first race on Van Deer skis. As is typical at ANC races, the podium featured a Žampa with middle brother Andreas in 3rd. Additionally, 14 other USA athletes competed on the 29th, including USST Sugar Bowl, Luke Winters in 6th and USST GMVS Ben Ritchie in 8th. Seven additional US athletes and one Canadian scored ANC points.
In the final women’s ANC race, three times World Cup winner and local legend Alice Robinson skied like the star she is and won her first race on Salomon. However, USST athletes Jemison and Hensien showed their speed by finishing 2nd and 3rd. USST’s Zoe Zimmermann, who had won a SL earlier in the series, finished a respectable 7th.
Benefits of continental cup titles realized
In conclusion, the US Ski Team athletes experienced significant success at the 2022 ANC races. Jemison won the women’s overall and tied for the SL title while ranking 2nd in GS. Nelson won the men’s ANC overall and GS titles and finished 2nd in SL. Zimmermann ended the series tied for first in women’s SL and Ritchie won the men’s SL title. Skiing well throughout the series Hensien took the women’s GS title and finished 3rd overall.
With the ANCs completed, the USST athletes in New Zealand will go home to rest. Then return to training and preparing for the season ahead. Many of them are undoubtedly encouraged by their ANC results. The athletes who are ANC season event winners will now be able to start immediately after the 30 in that event on the Europa Cup.
Specifically, Jemison and Zimmerman will be able to start immediately after the 30 in women’s Europa Cups SLs and Hensien will be able to do the same in GS. Canadian Candace Crawford will experience an EC start advantage in Super-G.
On the men’s side, Nelson can take advantage of a preferred start position in Europa Cup GS races. Additionally, Ritchie can start just outside the 30 in Europa Cup men’s SLs, although he has the speed and ability to compete with the world’s best. Hopefully, we won’t see much of him in the Europa Cup.
Ideally, they can all take advantage of the earned benefit and quickly make their way up the Europa Cup and World Cup standings.