Japanese riders rule halfpipe at Cardrona Games
The final day of the 2016 Cardrona Games staged at Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka, New Zealand featured a strong international contingent, including some home-grown Kiwi talent, competing in the resort's 22ft high Olympic superpipe with Japanese riders standing out with their trick variety and amplitude.
While Kurumi Imai stood out in the women's finals of the top six women, it was Naito Ando standing out in the men's finals which saw the best twelve qualifiers going for the glory.
Backing up her performance in qualifying, Imai earned her top score of 82 points in women’s snowboard with a smooth, well controlled run showcasing a big melon air into big backside 5, front 7, cab 3, finishing with a front 9.
Emily Arthur landed clean and technical runs but lacking the amplitude of Imai she would have to settle for second place. Junna Asaya, also from Japan, finished in third place.
O'Connor's dreams for a top podium finish burst like a bubble
Top qualifier Seamus O’Connor was last to drop into the pipe for men’s snowboard but unfortunately his podium aspirations were brought to an abrupt end with a crash on his very first hit which put him out of competition and opened the door wide for the riders from the land of the rising sun with Naito Ando on 95.3 and Ikko Anai on 89 points securing a 1-2-finish.
Ando brought home the win on his second run with huge amplitude and stylish, technical tricks bringing the wow factor with a huge front side 12 tail grab.
Germany’s Andre Hoeflich rounded out the podium as third with 81.7 points.
Head snowboard judge Mike Hijgemann commented “Several things played into our hands today: the weather was fantastic, and thanks to the Cardrona Park crew the pipe was in immaculate condition which meant the riders didn’t have any distractions and could really step up. The level of riding was really impressive.”
Full results can be checked here.
The Cardrona Games were jointly sanctioned as FIS Continental Cups and World Snowboard Tour National level events.