Snowboard halfpipe qualifiers set scene for world-class finals
Over 80 young snowboarders today took on the massive 22ft halfpipe at Cardrona in a bid to earn a prized spot in tomorrow's semi finals and an opportunity to ride for the 2010 Junior World Championship title.
Of the 84 athletes, 18 men and nine women, made it through the qualifiers to the semi finals and finals in a very tough competition that featured a high level of riding.
It was a young Japanese rider in the men's heat three who stole the day with the second highest scoring run ever seen in a New Zealand halfpipe, second only to Shaun White at last year's 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games. Taku Hiraoka (14) scored a 43.8 run which mixed massive amplitude with a perfectly executed frontside air, backside 5, frontside 7, cab 7 finishing with a frontside 9.
Staale Sandbech (17) of Norway with 41.7 was the second highest scoring qualifier with two consistent runs, following on from his success at Saturday's slopestyle where he took out the world champion title. Another young Japanese rider 15-year-old Masakaze Yoshida, had the third highest qualifying score with 41.3. All three go straight through to tomorrow's finals, joined by Seppe Smits (19) of Belgium, Derek Livingston (19) of Canada and Jan Scherrer (16) of Switzerland.
In the women's Cilka Sadar (18) who is 28 in the world rankings took the clear lead in 41.7. She too skips the semi finals and goes straight to tomorrow's finals, joined by Japan's Rana Okada (19) and Kelly Marren (USA).
FIS head judge, Ola Sundequist, said tomorrow's finals promised a very exciting event. "The best of each heat today were of a very high standard and they will be saving their best tricks for tomorrow's finals," he said.
Tomorrow's semi finals will see the remaining qualified athletes battling it out for the last six finals spots:
Nathan Johnstone (AUS), Ben Stewart (NZE), Manuel Pietropoli (ITA), Ethan Morgan (GER), Dimi de Jong (NED), Benjamin Farrow (USA), Ayumu Nedefuji (JPN), Roope Tonteri (FIN), Ikumi Imai (JPN), Scott James (USA), Ho-un Kim (KOR), Paul Brichta (USA).
Haruna Matsumoto (JPN), Rika Hatta (JPN), Madeline Schaffrick (USA), Rebecca Sinclair (NZE), Ryo Nakakita (JPN), Palmer Taylor (CAN)
The snowboard halfpipe semi finals kick off at 9.35am in the Cardrona with finals scheduled to take place at 11.00am.