Xuetong Cai and Tore Holvik claim victory at season’s first halfpipe World Cup
Xuetong Cai (CHN) and Tore Holvik (NOR) have won the first halfpipe contest of the 2011 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup season. Besides Cai (25.6 points) it was Zhifeng Sun (24.4) who secured a 1-2 punch for Team China. Ursina Haller of Switzerland finished third (24.0). On the men's side, Ryo Aono (JPN, 26.5) and Mathieu Crepel of France (25.1) rounded out the podium as second and third ranked rider placing right next to Holvik who had scored 27.6 points at the "Allalin 360" glacier competition at Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Being allowed to take the middle spot of the top-3 for the price giving ceremony was a big surprise for the young Norwegian as it was - unlike the 17-years-old Chinese, who celebrated her second World Cup win - Holvik's first ever World Cup triumph. "I was aiming for the final but I never expected to finally win it. I'm super stoked," the 22-years-old said. No wonder as the sixth ranked shredder of the first final run displayed the fireworks in the second run.
Holvik threw in a frontside air, backside 540, frontside 900, backside 900 and a frontside 1080 double cork to finish things off. In total, a massive and very high executed combination of tricks. But it was the final spin which made Holvik almost more proud than the first victory in his 30th World Cup start. "It was the first time that I tried the double cork. And it worked out. It's unbelievable," explained Holvik after his career's third World Cup podium.
Due to this impressive performance the rider from Geilo was able to edge off so far leading Ryo Aono to the runner-up position. The reigning World Champion had sticked method air to frontside 1080, cab 720, frontside 540, backside 540 and frontside 900 in the first run, but couldn't counter any more being the last man of the final's second run to drop in.
Mathieu Crepel and Ursina Haller with strong riding in the second run
In contrary to the Japanese athlete, Mathieu Crepel was able to throw some more style into the bargain. The tenth of the 2010 Olympics jumped on the podium by nailing method air to frontside 900, air to fakie, switch backside 900, haakon flip and frontside 1080 on his third day of halfpipe riding after the summer break. A performance, which the 26-years-old hadn't figured at all. "I'm happy but I was also lucky that the others weren't able to stick their runs. But I guess this is it, right? You have to be on top of the game when you have to," summed up the 2007 Double World Champion, who had also suffered a small shoulder injury in this morning's warm-up.
Just like Crepel, Ursina Haller also turned up the heat when she had to. Indeed, the best ranked European wasn't able to beat the two Chinese girls and their almost identical runs (method air, back-to-back 540's, frontside 720 as well as cab 540 and switch backside air respectively back-to-back 360's), but frontside air, backside 540, frontside 540, method air, frontside 720, cab 360 and a final stalefish were equal to her career's second best World Cup result. "I'm absolutely surprised as this was the best World Cup we ever had in Saas-Fee. High class riding in the finals, nice weather and a super pipe. I had thought of trying an even more technical run for the second run of the finals but then I decided to do the first one again, but more secure and smoother."
The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup continues on November 20th in Stockholm, Sweden, where the big air cracks will meet for the next round competing at the Winterjam.