Clark and James win Olympic halfpipe test event
Kelly Clark (USA) and Scotty James (AUS) have claimed victory in the 2016-17 season's final halfpipe World Cup event which took place in the Bokwang Phoenix Park Resort, South Korea today, whilst also serving as official test event for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, too.
While James, who had triumphed in the X Games earlier this season, therefore walked away with his career's second Crystal Globe since 2014, Chloe Kim (USA) celebrated the title on the women's side of things; it was her career's first.
However, the teenage halfpipe sensation who had kicked off the season with back-to-back wins had to settle for fourth today as Clark (94.00), fresh off a win at Mammoth Mountain (USA) as well as Chinese shredders Jiayu Liu (91.50) and Xuetong Cai (86.50) threw down runs which impressed the judges more.
33-year-old veteran Clark landed a frontside air to backside 540 mute, frontside 1080 indy, cab 720 invert and a crippler indy knowing that she is finally back at her game:
“This is a huge step for me in my process just coming back from my hip surgery to get my riding back to a really high level. Since last week, I finally feel that I'm back to where I was before I got injured.
I'm thankful to put down the run I did today, and I'm stoked of my snowboarding and even more stoked to end up atop of the podium,” she said.
To do so, she was able to step it up after her first run wasn't as good as she was hoping it to be whilst sitting in second position behind of Liu who had set the bar high with her high and well executed backside air to frontside 900 tail, backside mute, frontside 720 stalefish and cab 720 tail.
“In practise I did some cleaner runs. In my first run, I landed in the flat a couple of times and kind of under-rotated a few things. It was good to get one under my belt but I knew I could do it cleaner.
And that was just my whole approach: land higher on those walls, hang under those grabs longer because I know that execution is important at those events. That was what I really was trying to do,” Clark recapped her career's 13th World Cup win.
Her season's second was also the fourth consecutive triumph in an official Olympic test event World Cup after prevailing in Bardonecchia (ITA) in 2005, Cypress Mountain (CAN) 2009 and Sochi (RUS) back in 2013.
“I have hoped that I can build. It's awesome to be at a test event knowing that I have a whole year to progress,” she added.
Scotty James wraps up an incredible season with a win in South Korea
Over in the men's event, reigning world champion Scotty James added another big win to his palmares earning the highest score of the day with a 96.00 in his third run which consisted of a backside double cork 1260, frontside double cork 1080, cab double cork 1080 and frontside 900 therefore putting so far leading US superstar Shaun White under pressure.
But the two-time Olympic gold medallist couldn't step up his game as last to drop in keeping his 95.00 from run one earned for a massive method to frontside double cork 1080, cab double cork 1080, frontside 900 and a final backside double cork 1260.
“It's extremely disappointing,” White said. “I absolutely came here to win and do my thing. It was a great test run for the Olympics. Yeah, I think lesson is learned.”
Especially as he knew where and when he might lost it today:
“The truth is, I rode for two days and then went for shopping in Seoul, then rode qualifying and went back to shop in Seoul. So, I am really tired. By the time I got to my last hit my back leg kinda gave out. So, I'm just disappointed of myself although it's super nice suites I got. So, I hope there is less shopping next time and taking it more serious.
But anyway, Scotty had a great run with four magical hits.”
And with those four huge hits landed, Scotty James finally had his first ever World Cup win in store:
“It feels amazing winning the test event. I absolutely love South Korea. Every run here has been so awesome. The crowds and fans have been so welcoming and very helpful. They put on an awesome pipe here for us to ride, and yeah, I'm really excited.
It's twelve months down the track from today. It's going to be another exciting day in one year. And with a halfpipe like that anything is possible. It's going to be awesome.”
And that's for sure if the 22-year-old keeps on progressing like the past year.
“I put a lot of hard work in 2016, and I kind of continuing on this year as well. I changed up and put a lot of people in place who are pushing me forward to where I want to be. I have got such an amazing team behind me. Me and my coaches have a similar mindset towards where I wanna be. Australia and all my sponsors have been really supportive.”
That said, it's obviously that the adjustments pay off.
“I'm just trying to develop as a person and as a rider. Being happy is the most important thing for me, and I'm really happy at the moment. And things like this are a plus,” James said with an eye on his Crystal Globe.
Yiwei Zhang (CHN), the first rider who had stomped a triple cork in the pipe, rounded out the men's podium as third with a score of 93.25.
With the season's last halfpipe World Cup in the books, the great finale of the snowboard freestyle overall World Cup tour is slated to take place in Spindleruv Mlyn (CZE), where a slopestyle competition will wrap up things from March 24 till 25, 2017.
However, it's time to battle for gold, silver and bronze at the 12th FIS Snowboard World Championships a fe days before with the title decisions taking place in Sierra Nevada (ESP) from March 7 till 19, 2017.