Kelly Clark (USA) and Ryo Aono (JPN) have won the first halfpipe event of the 2013 FIS Snowboard World Cup season.
Both joint favorites for victory earned the top spot in a high class final held at Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort, New Zealand, due to extremely high executed runs.
2002 Olympic Champion Clark clinched the women's final with the score of 83 out of a maximum of 100 points and thus just edged off Sophie Rodriguez (FRA, 81.75) to the runner-up position. Queralt Castellet (ESP, 71.75) rounded out the podium as third.
Aono well above the rest
On the men's side, high flyer Ryo Aono rode in a league of his own thus crowning himself to the undisputed king of the 22ft superpipe at Cardrona. 95.25 points equalled World Cup win #9.
His fellow countryman Shuhei Sato (JPN, 88.50) and Yiwei Zhang (CHN, 84) secured the Asian podium sweep finishing second and third respectively.
However, none of the two young guns was able to really threaten Aono's triumph. The 22-years-old's air time was just incredible and above all others.
Aono, who was already leading the pack after run of the finals (92.75) just raised the bar again in the second run nailing an air to fakie tail to cab 1080 lien, frontside 900, backside 1260 and a frontside 1080 nose.
He thus also stomping the backside 1260 for the first time in a competition run. “I'm very happy about that. I didn't grab so so there is still something to improve,” said Aono.
Winning at Cardrona for the second time after 2007 mad him also pretty happy.
“That's cool and a perfect start into the season.”
Brilliant start to Olympic qualifier period
On the women's side, Kelly Clark was also enjoying a perfect start.
“I'm really happy with my result here today. We are here to earn spots for our country in the Olympic qualifier period. The good finishes of Hannah (Teter, fourth) and me gave us a good start to the season.
I'm glad that the weather held off and stayed on my feet.”
However, the halfpipe veteran from the US who had been on top of the world over the past years and just keeps o writing women's snowboarding history had to get it together after – untypically for her – falling in her first run.
“Falling in the first run is never ideal but I tried to look at it as an opportunity. That's exactly what can happen in major events. So it's good to get used to it and this kind of pressure,” stated Clark.
The 29-years-old was able to deal with the pressure, pulled it all together and threw in a frontside 720 indy to cab 720 mute, frontside air and backside 540 mute while finishing things off with a frontside 540 japan.
Rodriguez happy with second
She thus just edged off French rider Rodrigues to second who had kind off anticipated Clark's attack on the top spot.
Dropping in right before the US girl, Rodriguez tried to step it up and better her score with a frontside 900 but couldn't land the rick.
“It's a pity that I didn't land it as it might have been good for first place.”
But nevertheless, the 25-years-old was definitely pleased with the result.
“I'm so happy. It's a very good way to start the season. I didn't expect to be that good. The level was very high. When I saw the start list, I was hoping for the semi-finals so the result is perfect.”