Shaun White and Jiayu Liu win Halfpipe World Cup opener down under
The US-American superstar of snowboarding just nailed it already in the first run of the men's final scoring 47.1 points for his outstanding performance. Iouri Podladtchikov from Switzerland came in second (44.4) ahead of Japan's Kazuhiro Kokubo (43.2). On the women's side, Jiayu Liu had also established her number one position in the first run by earning 44.1 points. US girls Kelly Clark (40.5) and Gretchen Bleiler (37.1) rounded out the podium as second and third respectively.
But the starter field had to stay patient quite a while until the first podium of the year could be decided. At first, the semi finals had to be cancelled due to strong wind gusting through the pipe thus extending the field for the finals up to 18 riders for both, men and ladies. After several other postponements it was finally time for some high class snowboarding dominated by incredible high executed tricks.
But the high level of today's snowboarding was mainly owed to the man himself as Shaun White made the World Cup opener to his stage. The 22-years-old impressively took home the high score in the qualifiers just a few days before his birthday, just to rock the show the day after. In his first run the 2006 Olympic Champion started with a "Lien Air", followed by "Backside 900" and "Frontside 720" before he finished his performance with a "Cab Double Cork 1080" and a final "Frontside 1080" thus pushing the halfpipe riding to a new level in the World Cup which is owed to the intensified training sessions and the higher and wider 22-foot-pipes having been built over the past years. "I think that Double Corks are the future of the sport. It shouldn't be about throwing in as many spins as possible before the landing but about the style. And everyone could witness today that those tricks are still hard to do."
As it seems today - mainly hard for the others. Although there were several riders like Nathan Johnstone (AUS) or US-riders Danny Davis and Scotty Lago who did try the Double Corks, it was White who was the only one sticking them into the snow in the finals, in his second run even as back-to-backs. But no one should think that this would be the end of the story as White adds: "For sure I have something in store. I'm always trying to stay ahead of the rest. I have more tricks which I might reveal at the national qualifiers for the Olympics."
According to this, today's win, his third out of four World Cup competitions, was very important for the self-confidence of the exceptional talent: "It's cool to start a new season like this. It's like a race. So, the start signal has been fired and you noticed after you haven't seen anyone for quite a while that you are ahead of the others. That's a good feeling. And I hope that I will keep on running until the end."
One rider who was breathing down his neck was Iouri Podladtchikov. The Swiss pro threw in a clean and solid first run ("Frontside 1080 inverted", "Cab 1080", "Frontside Air", "Backside 540" and "Frontside 900 inverted") and was thus very pleased with his result: "It's a super nice feeling, it couldn't be better than lining up right behind of Shaun (White). It's a perfect start to the season after I was off-snow for about four months and had started to ride again last week." But "Ipod" also pointed out that today's winner could be beatable, too: "It's only about learning a few tricks. Then it will get interesting. But due to the result I'm very motivated and look forward to a brilliant winter."
On the ladies' side, reigning World Cup title holder Jiayu Liu secured her career's sixth World Cup victory due to a clean and high execution of her tricks. With a "Backside Air", "Frontside 540 mute", "Backside 540 mute" and "Back-to-back 720's" the 16-years-old girl earned the highest score in the women field which made her "very happy". "It's nice to win the World Cup opener" said Liu.