JWC halfpipe golds go to Ono and Miller

04 September 2018 11:59
Toby Miller (USA) on his way to JWC gold
Toby Miller (USA) on his way to JWC gold -

Cardrona (NZL) - The park and pipe portion of the Cardrona 2018 FIS Junior Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships concluded on Tuesday with thrilling halfpipe competition in the perfectly cut Cardrona pipe, where Mitsuki Ono (JPN) claimed the fifth gold medal of the Championships for the Japanese snowboard team on the ladies side, and the USA’s Toby Miller stepped up to claim a long-awaited gold in his final JWC appearance. 

Competition day opened with some sticky fog hanging over the course that would come and go throughout the day's proceedings. However, a little variable visibility didn’t slow down the young halfpipe riders of Cardrona 2018, and some impressive runs were put down throughout the day. 

While all three of her runs would have been enough for the gold medal, Ono’s final run score of 85.80 clearly established her as being in a class of her own amongst the ladies’ field, as it put her fully 11.4 points clear of second-place finisher Tessa Maud's (USA) score of 74.40. Dropping in switch to open with a cab 720 tail grab and following that up with back-to-back 540s,  the 14-year-old easily lived up to the lofty standards set by her gold medal-winning Japnese teammates Kokomo Murase and Takeru Otsuka in the big air and slopestyle events.




Maud, competing in her first event as a member of the US team, put down a nice combination of spins and perhaps the best invert of the day on the ladies' side with a solid crippler in her high-scoring second run to earn herself the silver medal. Canada’s Elizabeth Hosking, meanwhile, relied on her first-run score of 68.80 to stay ahead of the pack - including top qualifier Jia Lulu (CHN) who finished just behind Hosking in fourth.

Coming into the men’s competition the eventual gold medalist Miller had shown in qualifiers that he might be tough to match up to on finals day, and after putting down a blistering first-run score of 93.20 on Tuesday he made that suggestion an inarguable fact. 

Opening with a frontside double 1080 stalefish to cab double 1080 melon combo, and closing out with a frontside 1080 tailgrab, Miller was clearly on a mission to better the two Junior World Championship silver medals he had won in 2015 and 2017.



“I couldn’t be happier,” said Miller. “The level of riding out here today was absolutely phenomenal - all the riders are so talented. This is my fourth Junior Worlds and every year the level just gets higher and higher. I’m honoured to be in such an elite group of riders.”

Close on the day but not close enough were another pair of Japanese riders boasting a name famous in halfpipe circles, as Ruka and Kaishu Hirano finshed second and third respectively behind Miller.

Though Ruka Hirano, like Miller, had a pair of double corked rotations in his run, Hirano couldn’t quite match the precision and amplitude of Miller at his best, and the Japanese team would be denied a sweep of the gold medals in the park and pipe snowboard events by Miller's gold-medal day.