Kelly Clark and Ayumu Hirano win Halfpipe World Cup opener in New Zealand
US snowboard star Kelly Clark and Japan's very own super talent Ayumu Hirano have clinched the FIS Snowboard World Cup halfpipe event at Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort which was part of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ 2013. Earning a total of 89.50 points, Clark relegated Xuetong Cai (CHN, 85.50) and Gretchen Bleiler (USA, 85.25) to the second and third rank respectively.
Doing so, the grand dame of women's halfpipe snowboarding not only underlined once again that she is on top of her game but also showed some mental strength. After the 30-years-old fell on her frontside 1080 in her first run, the best qualifier and thus last to drop in in run two of the finals nailed it on the buzzer.
The 2002 Olympic Gold medalist threw down a frontside air to backside 540 mute, frontside 1080 lien, cab 720 mute and finished things off with a frontside stalefish thus taking home her career's seventh World Cup win.
"I'm really happy that the weather held off for us and we were able to have good training yesterday and a great final today," said Clark, who also pointed out the importance of nailing it in the second run.
"I was happy to overcome a first run fall. It's never ideal but it's a great practice. I thought, if this is happening at the Olympics as it happened to me before, what a great opportunity to have to come out and land a good run. And that's exactly what I was able to do. Knowing I can do this is great. I'm happy with my snowboarding and where it's at."
And according to last year's Cardrona winner, there is even more to come.
"I'm a very goal orientated person and will definitely chase done my tricks. I've yet to be doing nines and tens in the summer time consistently. I always judge myself off of how I was doing this time last year and I've made progress and grown a lot in my snowboarding so I'm right on track to progress into Sochi this year."
Teenie steals the show
While the older generation led the field of international competitors on the women's side, the up-and-coming generation took over the scene on the men's side of things.
Best qualifier Ayumu Hirano, probably the world's biggest talent to watch out for in halfpipe snowboarding being only 14 years of age, ran his rivals into the ground winning his career's first ever World Cup with 92.25 for his well and high executed run consiting of a backside tail to frontside 1080 double cork tail, cab 1080 mute, frontside 1080 double cork and a cab 720 indy.
Only his fellow countryman Taku Hiraoka (JPN, 91.75) threatened the high score with a gap of only 0.50 for his backside 540 japan, frontside 1080 double cork, cab 1080 mute, frontside 1260 and backside 900 mute.
Looking slightly stunned by his maiden World Cup victory he said: “I was aiming to be on the podium in this competition so I’m really happy about being in first place. This is my first World Cup and I still need to compete well this season to qualify for the Japanese team.”
Christian Haller (SUI, 82.50) rounded out the podium as third.
Full results can be found here: