USA dominates FIS Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup qualifying at Audi quattro Winter Games NZ
On day eight of the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, Kelly Clark and Gregory Bretz took out their heats and fellow Americans made up five out of the 16 automatic qualifiers for Saturday’s final.
Liu Jiayu of China won the other women’s heat with a score of 91.0 – just one point less than the score with which Clark won hers – and goes straight into the final with Gretchen Bleiler (USA), Arielle Gold (USA), Holly Crawford (AUS), Nadja Purtschert (SUI), Yuki Furihata (JPN) and Queralt Castellet (SPA).
Other men’s heat winner, Japan’s Ayumu Hirano will be happy to sit out the men’s semi alongside compatriots Taku Hiraoka and Ayumu Nedefuji plus Arthur Longo (USA), Nathan Johnstone (AUS), Christian Haller (SUI) and Tayler Gold (USA).
Speaking before heading up to watch the men’s heats, Kelly Clark – a gold and bronze medal-winning Winter Olympian – said she’d only been able to have four training runs before today due to poor visibility on Cardrona’s Olympic halfpipe.
“The pipe is so good and this is a great field. I’m really happy the weather cleared which made it possible to come out and land some good runs. For the final I’ll be doing a totally different run but playing to my strengths to keep it clean and big. Making it through was the name of the game today and I’m really excited about the final,” she said.
Those facing an intense semi-final competition include Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov as well as US riders Danny Davis and Beni Farrow in the men’s comp as well as Xuetong Cai (CHN), Ursina Haller (SUI), Sophie Rodriguez (FRA) and New Zealand women’s number one, Bex Sinclair for whom this was a first competition since knee surgery.
A total of four riders each, men and women, will fill up the finals of the top-12 male and female snowboarders.
Head judge, Ola Sundekvist was very pleased with the day’s events: “So finally, we got it! We've had sunshine and perfect conditions. The only thing missing was a couple of days extra training and then we could have seen some insane runs, so hopefully, with some training tomorrow, we’ll have some great semi-finals and some super-great finals on Saturday.”