Kim and Totsuka victorous in season's first Halfpipe World Cup
The finals of the Snowboard Halfpipe provided an exciting finish to the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ World Cup schedule at Cardrona Alpine Resort today.
16 men and six women dropped into the 22-foot high superpipe with Chloe Kim (USA) and Yuto Totsuka (JPN) emerging as 2017 winners of the season's opener.
While the 17-year-old teenage halfpipe sensation from Mammoth Mountain earned her career's fourth leading a US podium sweep ahead of Kelly Clark and Maddie Mastro (83.25), 15-year-old Totsuka celebrated a perfect start to his World Cup career.
With plenty of medals already in her collection, including three from the X Games, Kim was delighted to be making her New Zealand debut.
“It’s my first Winter Games, it’s been awesome!” she said.
Kim threw down the gauntlet on her first run landing a clean frontside 1080 on her second hit and maintaining big amplitude all the way down the pipe for a score of 90.50.
Sitting in first place but knowing she had three-time Olympic medallist Kelly Clark hot on her heels, she went for the step up run on her second attempt. Kim landed back to back 1080s but without the clean execution of her first run was unable to lift her score.
“It was nice to land something,” said Kim. “On the second run I wanted to try the back to back tens but it was a bit wild. Cleaning it up for the next contest will probably be a priority for me.”
Kelly Clark answered by also stomping a 1080 on her second run but couldn’t quite match the clean trick execution of her young compatriot and finished with a top score of 88.00 for second place.
“My first run was a bit wild, my second run was more the run that I wanted to do,” said Clark. “I’m really happy with where my snowboarding’s at at this time of year.”
Top qualifier from yesterday’s heats, Maddie Mastro was happy enough to finish in the medals.
“I can’t complain, I came here to have fun, that happened and landing on the podium was a bonus,” she said.
Men's field sees also a Winter Games first-timer stand out
In a heavy-hitting men’s field, huge amplitude and technical tricks were the key to a medal-winning performance.
It was a tight finish between the Japanese riders with Yuto Totsuka “very happy” coming out victorious just one point ahead of countryman and Olympic silver-medallist Ayumu Hirano who led the pack after run one with his solid run of frontside double cork 1080 indy to cab double cork 1080 mute, frontside double cork 1260 indy and a backside 540 mute.
Sitting in third after run one, the biggest halfpipe talent the Land of the Rising Sun has produced lately, stepped up his game in his second go earning a 93.25 for his frontside 1080 tail to cab double cork 1080 mute, frontside 900 tail, backside 540 mute and a final frontside double cork 1080 indy to take home the win in his World Cup debut event.
Swiss halfpipe champion Patrick Burgener landed two solid runs for a top score of 88.50 in his 2018 season-opener.
“I’m happy I stomped my runs,” said Burgener. “It’s the first comp of the season, I stomped pretty much all the tricks, I just have to clean them up. I’m so happy, it’s good to be in New Zealand.”
The FIS Snowboard Freestyle World Cup tour will now take a break until November when riders then will meet again in Copenhagen, Denmark for this season's first big air event (Nov 4).