China once more packs the podium

Kiwi snowboarder Rakai Tait glides through the air during yesterday's halfpipe finals at Cardrona. Photo: Adam Burns
Kiwi snowboarder Rakai Tait glides through the air during yesterday's halfpipe finals at Cardrona. Photo: Adam Burns
Further lessons were handed out by China's halfpipe exponents as they dominated yesterday's finals at the Winter Games New Zealand.

Following strong qualifying form, Chinese competitors continued on their merry way at Cardrona during the freeski and snowboarding halfpipe finals, making up seven of the 12 podium spots in the process.

It was again a close battle between 15-year-old Eileen Gu, of China, and Russian Valeriya Demidova, as Gu's 88.00 on the first run was enough to see her home.

Valeriya again threatened on the second run with 86.66 but was unable to match her rival on technical difficulty or amplitude.

''This is the first time I've skied pipe since December so every time in the pipe is about going as hard as I can and having fun,'' Gu said.

''I'm just very happy.''

A tidy switch combo on the second run landed Great Britain's Zoe Atkin a third place finish.

Dominating the womens' snowboard halfpipe finals yesterday were the Chinese trio of (from left) Leng Qiu (3rd), Xuetong Cai (1st) and Shaotong Wu (2nd). Photo: Winter Games NZ
Dominating the womens' snowboard halfpipe finals yesterday were the Chinese trio of (from left) Leng Qiu (3rd), Xuetong Cai (1st) and Shaotong Wu (2nd). Photo: Winter Games NZ
In the men's category, American Jaxin Hoerter held the lead for the first two runs but China's Bingqiang Mao nailed a left double 1260 on the third run to haul himself into pole position.

Cassidy Jarrell edged fellow countryman Hoerter for second spot due to the technical difficulty of his back to back doubles and towering amplitude.

The men's snowboard podium was decided on the very last run of the day when top qualifier Yiwei Zhang, of China, landed an intricate combo of front 900, back 900, front double 1080, cab double 1080, for a score of 91.00.

''That's why it's good to have three runs,'' Zhang said.

After a first run score of 84.00, Ziyang Wang led the field for most of the day but would have to settle for second place.

Thirteen-year-old Korean Chaeun Lee showcased a variety of tricks and finished third via a first run score of 78.33.

Kiwi Rakai Tait was looking good for a podium finish until Yiwei's final run bumped him to fourth place, followed by Wanaka's Fletcher Craig in fifth.

It was a Chinese clean sweep in the women's category - Xuetong Cai carrying her top qualifying form through to the finals for a convincing 94.66 point win ahead of Shaotong Wu on 76.66 and Leng Qiu in third.

Pool play in the curling mixed doubles continues today in Naseby.

adam.burns@odt.co.nz

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