More big air exciting for NZ athletes

Finn Bilous
Finn Bilous
New Zealand’s medal chances at the next Winter Olympic Games have improved after the International Olympic Committee announced on Thursday freeski big air would be one of seven new disciplines at Beijing in 2022.

The news is positive for New Zealand, which has a strong history in big air.

This year’s Winter Olympic Games featured snowboard big air for the first time, in which Wanaka teenager Zoi Sadowski-Synnott claimed a bronze medal.

Likewise, Kiwi freeskiers also have a history of success in the discipline. Both Jossi and Jackson Wells are X Games bronze medal winners.

Jossi Wells said he was "thrilled" to hear the discipline would be in the next Olympic Games and believed it showed "great progress in the sport of freeskiing".

Fellow freeskier Finn Bilous said he was looking forward to a new challenge and the Winter Games would be a "good chance to gain experience" in big air.

Snow Sports New Zealand performance director Ashley Light said the inclusion was "exciting" for New Zealand athletes.

"New Zealand already has a strong performance record in the discipline at X Games and World Cups and with a number of proven and upcoming athletes now able to target another discipline at the Olympics the future is bright."

"Correlating with the talent of the athletes, the home advantage of world-class big air training facilities at Cardrona with the recently installed landing bag and the World Cup standard competition jump, the New Zealand freeski athletes have every opportunity to progress and reach their goals."

Next month’s Winter Games will be the first event to host a freeski big air World Cup as an Olympic discipline.

The other new disciplines set to debut in Beijing in four years’ time are monobob, short track mixed relay, and mixed team ski jumping, aerials and snowboard cross.

Big air is the only one of those disciplines to feature at next month’s Winter Games.

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