Snowboarding – American Kim enters the halfpipe final, Japanese teenager Ono follows

ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Feb 9 (Reuters) – American Chloe Kim cruised through Wednesday’s qualifying in the women’s snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing Games to advance to the final in first place, while Japanese teenager Mitsuki Ono followed his Olympic debut.

Kim, who at 17 became the youngest woman to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, scored 87.75 on her first run but fell on her second try after fumbling landing from a back spin seconds after falling into the halfpipe.

Kim, now 21, took nearly two years off the mountain to focus on her studies and mental health after suffering from exhaustion following her last Olympics.

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The American said she wasn’t surprised she crashed on her second run of the day because she was trying a new set of tricks, but said she was “pleased” with her first score .

“Honestly, I’m in such a good place right now – so grateful, I’ve got it all figured out, and I’m so excited for tomorrow,” Kim said, before rushing off the course in search of food. .

Ono, 17, came in second with her best score of 83.75 in her confident second run.

“I feel really good from my training sessions and I’m happy that I nailed all my moves today,” Ono told reporters. “I’m going to give everything I have in the final and if it comes with the medal, that’s great,” she said.

In third place is four-time Chinese Olympian Cai Xuetong, 28, who finished fifth at the Games in 2018.

Cai said she was happy with the day’s performance and was trying to stay relaxed ahead of Thursday’s final.

“I don’t want to stress myself too much,” said the veteran, after her best score of 83.25 secured her a place in the final.

Each boarder earned two points in the halfpipe, with their seeding going into the final determined by their best score on the two points. The top 12 female boarders from Wednesday’s qualifiers will advance to the final.

Japanese sisters Sena and Ruki Tomita also qualified for the final, placing fifth and sixth respectively.

Pyeongchang silver medalist Liu Jiayu of China, just seconds away from her first run, fell near the bottom of the pipe and held her helmeted head in her hands for a moment before crashing. raise.

Liu reached the final in seventh place.

“Of course I have more tricks prepared for the final and a higher goal (winning gold) this time,” she said.

The competition took place at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, where riders fell into the halfpipe under clear skies with temperatures hovering around -13 degrees Celsius (8.6°F).

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Reporting by Winni Zhou and Mari Saito; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Himani Sarkar

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