All but one of the six New Zealanders at the 13th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships have made it through to the individual finals which will be shorn in Norway in the next few hours.
A short while ago, with temperatures dropping below 5 degrees outside the venue in the village of Bjerkreim, Napier’s John Kirkpatrick and South Taranaki gun Paul Avery qualified in second and third places respectively for the final of the glamour machine-shearing event.
They were beaten only by the most feared opponent, Taranaki-based Scotsman Gavin Mutch, regaining the form which had placed him in the lead after two of the three qualifying rounds before Kirkpatrick became top qualifier for the semi-finals.
The other finalists are Kieran McCullough, of Northern Ireland, Hamish Mitchell, of Scotland, and Steven Capstick, of England.
New Zealand has a great chance of winning the World woolhandling title after reigning champion Joanne Kumeroa and championships newcomer Sheree Alabaser both made their way into the three for the final today in the Norwegian village of Bjerkreim.
Competing among the nine semi-finalists a short while ago, Alabaster, a Taihape school teacher whose woolshed work is confined mainly to holidays, was top qualifier, followed by Kumeroa, and host country hope Stina Bakkedale.
It continued an amazing fightback by the 39-year-old two-times champion Kumeroa who was only 20th of the 27 competitors at the end of the first of two qualifying rounds on Friday, and looked to have almost no hope of qualifying.
Earlier, Peter Race, of Timaru, qualified fifth of six for the bladeshearing which starts about 1am. But teammate Bill Michelle, from Timaru, became the first of the six-strong New Zealand team to be eliminated at the 13th World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, finishing seventh in the semifinals, missing out by a single point.
With temperatures outside so low, the crowd had swelled inside to about 1000 for the machine shearing semi-finals in which each of 12 qualifiers shore three local spelsau sheep and seven Norwegian whites.