Americans, Japanese to fore in halfpipe

American and Japanese competitors dominated the qualifying rounds of the  men’s and women’s snowboard halfpipe world cup at Cardrona Ski Field yesterday.

In the women’s competition, American riders claimed three of the six available finals spots in the 30-strong field. Maddie Mastro was the top scorer, Kelly Clark was third and Chloe Kim fourth. France’s Mirabelle Thovex separated the Americans as the second-highest qualifier. Japan’s Hikaru Oe was fifth and Xuetong Cai, of China, sixth.

In the men’s competition, Raibu Katayama, of Japan, and American Ben Ferguson topped their respective heats qualifying straight for the finals today.

The top three riders in each heat will now move directly to finals and the next five from each heat will contest semifinals which are also today.

• The first day of the Australia-New Zealand Cup cross-country competition started in near perfect conditions at the Snow Farm yesterday.

In the men’s 10km race, American Benjamin Lustgarten claimed top honours in 27min 35sec. He was closely followed by Japan’s Kaichi Naruse, just 9sec behind, while American Brian Gregg was third in 28min 44sec.

The only New Zealander in the field, Campbell Wright (15), from from Hawea Flat, skied strongly to place 20th in his first International Ski Federation race.

In the women’s 5km, another American, Jessie Diggins took  top honours in 14min 53sec,  10sec ahead of Australian Barbara Jezersek, who scraped in less than 1sec faster than Sophie Caldwell,  of the United States.

• The second day of the cross-country skiing at the Snow Farm and, depending on the weather, the final day of the North Face Frontier freeride competition at the Remarkables will take place today.

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