Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano lead Sochi halfpipe qualifiers
The third snowboard competition of the XXII Olympic Winter Games kicked off with the men's halfpipe qualifiers at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park today after the shaper crew had worked during the night to prepare the best possible conditions with rising temperatures given.
As a result, the first heat could start as scheduled with the youngest athlete dropping the hammer right away.
Light weight Ayumu Hirano, a 15-year-old shredder from Japan, raised the bar as second to drop in with a massive backside air to frontside 1080, cab 1080, frontside 900, backside 540 and a frontside double cork 1080 to finish things off.
As he was going big as no one else of the first 20 men, he earned 92.25 which none of his rival was able to beat.
Christian Haller (SUI, 83.75) didn't even come close to the high score while taking second spot and thus directly advancing to the finals together with his young team mate David Habluetzel (81.00).
Heat 2 ups the ante
After a short maintenance break, it was time for the second heat – stacked with some of the finest talents on planet earth – to showcase their tricks in style.
And the second field picked up even more pace than heat 1 with odds-on favourite for the title, superstar Shaun White (USA), leaving an incredible stamp.
While making things look easy he threw down a run which was executed with outstanding amplitude scoring 95.75 underling that he travelled to Sochi to take home his third consecutive Olympic Gold.
The reigning champion stomped a huge backside air to frontside double 1080, cab double 1080, frontside 540 stalefish, backside 900 and a final alley oop rodeo 540.
His score thus gave him the opportunity for kind of a training run in run 2 where White landed a double mc twist 1260 to frontside double cork 1440 – although there was still some more room for style left.
However, his contenders in heat 2 weren't that impressed trying to give the right answers.
Taku Hiraoka (JPN) placed second with 92.25 for his frontside tailpoke to frontside 900, backside 900, frontside 1080, cab 1080, frontside double cork 1080.
Third placed style machine Danny Davis (USA) also crashed into the nineties with 92.00 for a super smooth backside 360 to a switch method, cab 1080, frontside double crippler, mc twist, frontside 720 and a switch alley oop rodeo thus also claiming his final spot right away.
While six finalists have thus already been named, the semi finals, which are up at 4 PM CET, will bring some more promising halfpipe riding.
Twelve men, including some gifted talents like Arthur Longo (FRA), Tim Kevin Ravnjak (SLO), Shi Wancheng (CHN), Gregory Bretz (USA), Seamus O Connor (IRE), Johann Baisamy (FRA) from heat 1 and Yiwei Zhang (CHN), Taylor Gold (USA), Kent Callister (AUS), Nathan Johnstone (AUS), Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) and Jan Scherrer (SUI) from heat 2.
Only six spots in the final remain - and 12 riders battling for them!
You can follow the live scoring on http://live.fis-ski.com/livesb7011.htm.