Yabuli hosts first World Cup in China
Just a few days after Yongpyong, Korea, was the season’s third newcomer to celebrate its premiere as LG Snowboard FIS World Cup host, it’s up to Yabuli to leave a mark on the international competition series in just a few days. China’s biggest ski area is, although being a brand new World Cup host, no stranger in respect of organising events. The resort, which is located about 175 kilometres southeast of Harbin in the northern province of Heilongjiang, not only hosted the 1996 Asia Winter Games but also the 2008 National Winter Games and some of the 2009 Winter Universiade competitions. This winter’s second halfpipe contest held on February 13th, 2011, will mark the first ever Chinese World Cup stop.
Although just a small field will enter the competition, of which the finals will be held under floodlight, some top halfpipe action is guaranteed. New-fledged halfpipe World Champions from Australia, Nathan Johnstone and Holly Crawford, as well as the whole Chinese women team stand for high level riding.
While Johnstone will mainly have a brush with Ho-jun Kim (KOR), who finished sixth at the last Worlds in La Molina, Spain as well as with China’s Wanchen Shi, who clinched a podium finish once as third of the halfpipe contest in Gujo about two years ago, his team mate Crawford has to face the concentrated women’s power of the Chinese halfpipe team.
According to this, six-time World Cup winner and 2009 title holder Jiayu Liu, who just missed the 2010 Olympic podium as fourth, is not the only local aiming for victory on home turf. At least three more fellow countrywomen with the skills to secure the top spot will drop in.
Besides current World Cup leader and title defender Xuetong Cai, who also grabbed Gold at the last Universiade in Turkey, Zhifeng Sun has also claimed two World Cup wins up to now. In addition, Xu Chen is also well-experienced having collected four podium finishes in her career so far. However, the 19-years-old is still waiting for her first ever triumph.