Clark and Hiraoka win Olympic Halfpipe rehearsal for Sochi 2014
US veteran on top of her game and Japanese young gun shocks the world
Kelly Clark (USA) and Taku Hiraoka (JPN) have clinched the halfpipe test event for the up-coming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
In the finals of the best twelve women and men of the fourth FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup staged in the “Extreme Park” of Rosa Khutor today, the 2002 Olympic Gold medalist nailed it on the women's side with 88.25 points.
The U.S. Snowboarding veteran, who extended her World Cup lead to 3,200 points due to her season's second win, her career's sixth, threw in a frontside air to backside 540, frontside 1080, cab 720, frontside 540 and backside air.
“I'm happy with how I rode and looking forward to building my riding up,” said Clark after the finals.
In addition, she also underlined the importance of her visit to Russia.
“I was just happy to come here and get some experience in this pipe and at this venue. I'm definitely leaving here in courage due to the win.”
2013 World Championships runner-up Holly Crawford (AUS) finished in second position with 78 points while Sophie Rodriguez (FRA) took third with 73 points.
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Kaboom! Hiraoka tenth Japanese to win a Halfpipe World Cup
On the men's side, Taku Hiraoka underlined his style and skills in his seventh World Cup start bringing home his career's first after so far two second ranks secured at the World Cup stops in Stoneham, Canada, in 2011 and 2012.
The 17 years-old 2013 World Championships runner-up earned the highest score of 90.25 points in run one of the finals.
Hiraoka had set the bar too high for the strong and deep field of finalists with his backside air to frontside 1080, cab 1080, frontside 900, backside 900 and a double cork 1080 to finish things off.
“It have been tough conditions with the warm weather but I'm very happy about my first win,” explained the young gun after his coup in the familiar Japanese briefness.
Reigning World Champion Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) placed second (84.50 points) while 2010 Olympic Bronze medalist Scott Lago (USA, 83.25) rounded out the podium as third and took over the World Cup lead with 1,960 points.
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Photo: (c) GEPA pictures/Daniel Goetzhaber