Xuetong Cai and Janne Korpi secure victory at World Cup Opener
Xuetong Cai (CHN) and Janne Korpi (FIN) have kicked off their personal seasons with a win. At the 2012 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup Opener at Cardrona Alpine Resort, New Zealand, the Chinese World Cup title defender successfully competed in the ladies' final earning a total of 92.8 points. Reigning World Champion Holly Crawford (AUS, 88.5) placed second ahead of Ursina Haller from Switzerland (77.3). On the men's side, Janne Korpi held the upper hand with a winning score of 93 out of 100 possible points. The Fin thus relegated Yiwei Zhang (CHN, 90.8) and Dimi de Jong (NED, 88) to the second and third spot respectively.
However, the first podium finishes of Zhang and de Jong in their careers weren't the most surprising element of today's finals. It was the impressive performance of Korpi. The 25-years-old, who has already competed in a total of 49 World Cups bringing home twelve podium finishes, was pretty flabbergasted about his riding which, in the end, earned him his career's eighth victory.
“I was only trying to bring down my own run. That worked out fine in the first heat. But I never expected that I would have a slight chance to win here as today was my third day in the halfpipe”, said the two-time Olympian.
In total, the Vihti based rider had only been one week in the snow after an injury of his right shoulder had thrown him back at the end of the last season. “According to this I had decided to enter my preparations for this winter a little bit later. I intentionally took some extra time.”
It was the right decision as all other eleven finalists had a tough time with the score Korpi had earned for his without exception high and stylish run consisting of backside rodeo alley-oop 540 nose, backside 900 mute, frontside 1080 tail, cab 1080 nose and a frontside stalefish to finish things off.
However, Zhang, who had proofed with backside indy, frontside 1080 indy, cab double cork indy, frontside 900 indy and backside 540 mute that China might play a bigger role in the future of the men's halfpipe riding and Dimi de Jong were the ones coming closest. The 17 years-old Dutch was all smiles after backside melon, frontside 1080 tail, cab 720 melon and frontside 900 tail to backside 9 mute brought him his career's first podium in his 22nd World Cup start.
“I'm really happy as the level of riding was insane. So many 10s, double corks; and everyone was getting so much air time. It feels good to start my season with a result like this.”
World Cup title defender ties on to last season
While Korpi brought home victory to Europe, Xuetong Cai underlined once again the Chinese dominance in the ladies' field. Due to a clean run, which she started with a frontside indy to backside 540 mute, frontside 720, cab 360 and a frontside 540 melon, the 18-years-old nailed her fifth win in her eleventh World Cup start.
But a few girls showed, that the near future could bring some tougher competition for Cai. Especially as besides second ranked reigning World Champion Holly Crawford (frontside lien, japan air, frontside 720 mute, cab 720 melon, frontside 540 melon, backside air) Ursina Haller left her mark being ready to front the strong force from China.
The Swiss was the only one throwing in a frontside 900 – although she had to pay the bill. Right at the first hit of her first run, the 25-years-old caught the coping and crashed. But she did better in her second try bringing down frontside 900 to backside 540 mute, frontside 540 melon, backside air and frontside 720.
“The crash was hard and it wasn't easy for me to try it once again. But fortunately I brought it home”, stated the boarder form Zernez. “I definitely know that the run wasn't clean enough to get more points. But I'm also very satisfied with the result.”
With an eye on the next Halfpipe World Cup, which will take place on Haller's home turf in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, she added: “I will try to go for another podium and to bring down a cleaner run.” That sounds like a good plan as today's winner Xuetong Cai had announced right after the finals that she is definitely ready for some more World Cup wins.
But before the freestyle aces get there second chance for World Cup points and some price money, it's time for the alpine specialists to enter the slopes. The first parallel slalom of the season is scheduled for October 13th in SnowWorld Landgraaf, Netherlands.