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Freestyle skiers put PyeongChang halfpipe to the test

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The USA’s Torin Yater-Wallace and Marie Martinod of France produced dominant displays to clinch victory in the men’s and women’s halfpipe, as Bokwang Phoenix Park played host to the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup series, in what doubled up as an official test event for PyeongChang.

The American and French freestylers had topped their respective leaderboards during qualifying and both maintained their unstoppable form in the finals.

Martinod, a silver medallist at Sochi 2014, achieved a score of 91.60 in the first run that remained unbeaten for the rest of the competition. She has now won three out of three halfpipe events this season, meaning that the halfpipe crystal globe is already hers going into the final event of the season.

Devin Logan came closest to overhauling the World Cup leader, but the American had to settle for second place with a score of 86.80. Japan’s Ayana Onozuka completed the podium after posting 84.00 for her second run.

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Martinod was full of praise for the Olympic venue. “It’s perfect! It’s a very big halfpipe as it’s 22.3 feet instead of the normal 20, so it took a bit of time during training to get used to it.”

Meanwhile Yater-Wallace’s victory, courtesy of a score of 95.60 in the first round, cemented his berth at PyeongChang. And the 21-year-old, who made his Olympic debut at Sochi 2014 and has bounced back spectacularly from a near-fatal illness in 2015, will have high hopes of a medal.

At the Bokwang Phoenix Park he had to see off a robust challenge from team-mate and close friend Aaron Blunck, who scored 94.40 for his third run, to take second place. France’s Benoit Valentin edged out compatriot Kevin Rolland to take bronze, with the pair scoring 92.60 and 91.40 respectively.

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“Mad hyped to make it on the podium with these bosses [Blunck and Valentin] in South Korea,” tweeted a delighted Yater-Wallace.
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