While it's fairly typical to see some yearly crossover of athletes from Alpine to Freestyle - a good percentage of the World Cup ski cross field is made up of ex-alpiners looking to satisfy a thirst for airtime and head-to-head competition - rare is it to see an athletes name in the FIS database in both halfpipe and giant slalom.
Japan's Ayana Onozuka is one of the elusive few who have made the leap from the world of speed and steeps to the world of style and stunts, and she has done so with aplomb.
Ayana's last alpine race - a GS FIS race in Japan in which she placed 9th - took place in May of 2011. Her first halfpipe competition - a World Cup at Copper Mountain, USA - took place only seven months later, in December of that same year.
While Ayana had an understandably inauspicious start at that event - recording a 35th place result - she progressed quickly and steadily, scoring a 14th placing in her second competition and then a 3rd place podium showing at only her third-ever World Cup competition at Cardrona, NZL, in August 2012.
Since then, she has only finished outside of the top 10 once, while racking up five career podiums, a world championships bronze medal, and a bronze medal at the inaugural Olympic ski halfpipe competition at Sochi 2014.
With her smooth style, relaxed attitude, clockwork-like consistency, and a third place result from the 2014/15 halfpipe World Cup season opener already under her belt, Ayana Onozuka seems comfortable cruising along in the top tier of the halfpipe world.
|1606020.12.2013||Halfpipe||Copper Mountain, CO||USA||World Cup||7||360.00|
|1605919.12.2013||Halfpipe||Copper Mountain, CO||USA||Qualification||1||50.00|