Xuetong Cai and Ryo Aono rock the halfpipe at Stoneham
China’s World Cup leader Xuetong Cai and 2009 World Champion from Japan, Ryo Aono, have won the season’s third halfpipe contest of the 2011 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. In Canadian ski resort Stoneham, some twenty minutes away from Quebec City, Cai (24.8 points) relegated reigning World Champion Holly Crawford (AUS, 24.5) and Haruna Matsumoto (JPN, 35.5) to the second and third rank respectively. On the men’s side, Aono (27.8) led a total podium sweep of the Japanese team with Taku Hiraoka (27.2) and Kazuumi Fujita (25.6) stepping on the podium right next to the two-time World Cup title winner as second and third.
Aono had secured his career’s seventh World Cup win already in the first run of the finals, which had to be postponed – just like the qualifiers before – due to heavy fog. The 20-years-old from Matsuyama had thrown in a backside 540 mute to frontside 1080 tail, cab 720 stalefish, frontside air and a backside 900 melon while executing all tricks incredibly high.
“It’s nice that I was able to win here,” said Aono, who had placed ninth at the last Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and took over the World Cup lead due to today’s victory having earned 1,800 points so far in this season. “I didn’t really expect this final to happen as the weather conditions didn’t seem to clear up at all.”
While Aono was pretty pleased with his performance, Nathan Johnstone, the Japanese’s biggest rival in the race for the Crystal Globe with 1,260 points, quarrelled with both of his runs in the final. The reigning World Champion who had advanced to the round of the best twelve riders as the afternoon’s top qualifier went the biggest out of the pipe but failed to put in the mandatory straight air before crossing the finish line of the halfpipe.
“Well, no luck this time. I couldn’t get the trick in before the red line. Maybe if the would put that line some ten feet lower I could squeeze it in. I guess I have to work on this, try to straighten it up a little bit,” explained the 21-years-old from down under.
Johnstone, who finished tenth, added: “It would have been nice to get a better place but there was nothing I could really do. I have to keep getting better results to stay high in the points ranking. I’m definitely after the globe. Maybe it’s working out better in Calgary.”
Holly Crawford sole non-Asian to place on the podium
Other than her team mate, Holly Crawford made it better. The 27-years-old, who had missed the podium in China last week by placing fourth, was the only rider out there, who was able to be at eye level with the solid Asian performance. By nailing frontside lien, backside air, frontside 720 indy to cab 720 lien, frontside 540 and a backside air to finish things off, the Aussie girl jumped on the podium as second.
“I’m pretty happy. I was hoping to get a podium and this is what I did. I definitely had a little bit of jetlag in China last week but here we all got jetlagged because we all flew over from China,” said Crawford, who, however, is already clearly behind in the World Cup rankings.
Xuetong Cai, who had claimed her career’s third win with backside air, frontside 540, backside 540 mute and back-to-back 720’s, sits in first with 1,800 points while Crawford has collected only 500 points so far.
After the season’s third halfpipe contest the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup continues in Quebec City with this winter’s last big air competition scheduled for tomorrow.
A first photo selection of today’s halfpipe competition has already been uploaded. Those images are free of charge if you add the credit © FIS/Oliver Kraus:
Here are a few first direct photo links:
Taku Hiraoka (JPN), frontside crail: http://fis.smugmug.com/Other/LG-SB-FIS-WC-Stoneham/15848528_87t5n#1191681526_Uto8r-O-LB
Result women: http://www.fis-ski.com/pdf/2011/SB/7083/7083RLR0.pdf