Snowboarders sparkle as Olympic halfpipe earns rave reviews

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Many of the world’s best freestyle snowboarders were in the Republic of Korea on 18-19 February, as the Bokwang Phoenix Park Resort played host to the season’s final halfpipe event in the FIS Snowboard World Cup series, which doubled up as the official test event for PyeongChang 2018.

In the women’s competition, the USA’s Kelly Clark emerged on top with a score of 94.00 points that was enough to see off a double Chinese challenge from Jiayu Liu (91.50) and Xuetong Cai (86.50).

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Finishing just off the podium in fourth was US teenage sensation Chloe Kim.  However the 500 World Cup points that she scored were enough to secure the overall FIS Snowboard World Cup Halfpipe crown, ahead of compatriot Clark and Liu. It was the culmination of a remarkable year for the 16-year-old, whose parents hail from the Republic of Korea, with her World Cup title coming just one year after she won two gold medals at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Kim has generated no shortage of interest in the country of her parents. Appointed as a sports envoy for Team USA, she travelled to the Republic of Korea earlier this month to meet with Korean university students, and to run a snowboarding workshop for young Koreans. And her presence at next year’s Winter Games, where she will be a favourite for gold, is sure to attract a great deal of attention among the locals.

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White full of praise for PyeongChang halfpipe

In the men’s event, Australian Scotty James topped the stage podium with a score of 96.00, helping him secure the large crystal globe as overall World Cup winner.

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Double Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White of the US finished second with 95.00 while China’s Yiwei Zhang finished third on 93.25.

White, who is widely regarded as the greatest exponent of halfpipe – was mightily impressed by the quality of the quality of the halfpipe at the PyeongChang venue.

“It is great, the flat bottom is really smooth and the walls are really big” said the American snowboarder, who topped the Olympic podium at Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.

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“It just feels comfortable. You can go as fast as you want or you can adjust to how you are feeling. It is probably one of the best pipes of the season.”