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Halfpipe World Cup leaders Xuetong Cai and Ryo Aono win Calgary event

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The HP podium in Calgary:
Women                                               Men
1. Xuetong Cai (CHN)                     1. Ryo Aono (JPN)
2. Holly Crawford (AUS)               2. Nathan Johnstone (AUS)
3. Haruna Matsumoto (JPN)      3. Yiwei Zhang (CHN)

Xuetong Cai (CHN) and Ryo Aono (JPN) have won the season’s fourth halfpipe contest of the 2011 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup, which wrapped up today’s double event at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, thus extending their lead in the race for the Crystal Globe. In the women’s final, Cai (24.9 points) relegated – just like in Quebec last week – Holly Crawford (AUS, 23.0) and Haruna Matsumoto (JPN, 22.3) to the second and third rank respectively. On the men’s side, Nathan Johnstone (AUS, 27.7) and Yiwei Zhang (CHN, 27.0) rounded out the podium which was led by Aono (28.3).

The 20-years-old Japanese rider from Matsuyama proofed some nerves of steel on his way to clinch his career’s eight World Cup win, the second consecutive one, after he had fallen in his first run of the finals. The ninth ranked rider of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, who had won the Universiade beginning of February, started to impress both, spectators and judges, with a huge backside 540 thus kicking of an insane winning run.

Aono, who kept on sending himself out of the pipe, added a frontside 1080 to cab 720, frontside air and backside 900 to finish things off; it was an incredible performance which also forced Nathan Johnstone to pay his respect.

“Ryo’s run was just unreal,” said Johnstone right after the finals. Right before, the reigning World Champion, who had been leading the pack after the first run, had tried to find the right answer on Aono’s call but failed. Some flat landings made it impossible for the 21-years-old to better his score he had earned in his first run for back-to-back 720’s, back-to-back 900’s and a final frontside air.

“It would have been nice staying first, but after the result of Quebec last week I’m pretty happy being second,” added Johnstone, who, although he had lost some more points in the duel with Aono (2.800) for the World Cup title, stayed optimistic with so far 2.060 points to his belt. “I hope I can tie on to this. It will be a tough fight to get Ryo in the end but I hope I can make it.”

Season’s third for Cai

On the women’s side, it seems that the race for the Crystal Globe is already over after Xuetong Cai brought home her season’s third win. Having cumulated 3,800 points so far, the 17-years-old comfortably sits on top of the table, 1,700 points ahead of Crawford, with only two more events to come in Bardonecchia (ITA) and Arosa (SUI).

The Chinese had claimed her career’s fourth World Cup win, just like in Quebec last week, by throwing in a method air to back-to-back 540’s, frontside 720 and cab 360.

Indeed, Crawford had tried to attack the high score awarded to the Chinese girl in her second run but the reigning World Champion from down under wasn’t able to achieve her goal. “I wanted to do back-to-back 720’s but lost speed after my first 720 and fell after my frontside 540. But there is more to come and I hope to stay on top of the podium soon.”

The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup continues next weekend in Moscow with a parallel slalom scheduled in the Russian capital. The finals will be held under floodlight.
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