Japan has new king of the hill

Updated: 2012-12-10 05:38

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Japan has new king of the hill

Yuki Kadono of Japan won the Air & Style Beijing 2012 event on Saturday night at the Bird's Nest. Kadono scored 97.67 points on his third run after he landed a triple-cork 1,440. Cui Meng / China Daily

Kadono wins Beijing snowboarding event, becoming first Asian to do so

It was a big weekend for snowboarding in Asia.

Japanese rider Yuki Kadono claimed the title on Saturday at the Bird's Nest in the first 6 Star World Snowboard Tour event of the season, the Air & Style Beijing 2012, becoming the first Asian to win the event.

Presented by Oakley and Olympic champion Shaun White, the contest was in Beijing for the third year in a row. Thousands of fans were in high spirits, screaming along to rock music at the Olympic venue even as the temperature dropped to -10 C in the evening.

Kadono claimed the title with a high-flying triple-cork 1,440 (a backward 1,080 degree somersault with a twist), which earned him 97.67 points on his third run. Peetu Piiroinen of Finland and Norwegian Stale Sandbech finished second and third respectively in the Super Final.

At 16 years old, Kadono joined White as the youngest winners of a top-tier WST event.

It also marked the first time an Asian has won the event, which has been dominated by Scandinavia and the US.

"Tonight, I had many firsts in my career," Kadono said. "It happened so quickly, and I still can't believe I won. I am so thrilled."

Kadono said the huge ramp in the Bird's Nest and the supportive crowd motivated him to land the trick for only the second time.

Kadono received 1,000 ranking points and prize money of $24,561. He also won the $5,000 Red Bull Longest Airtime Award with a time of 3.47 seconds.

"I would say a new star was born in snowboarding. It's really cool to see new kids coming up and pushing the sport," said WST president Reto Lamm.

Kadono's win was inspirational to local riders.

Japan has new king of the hill

"He's done amazing things at such a young age, and that proves Asian young people have the same potential as westerners. I believe our local riders will improve a lot in a couple of years with more people inspired and involved," said Wei Xiao, a college enthusiast, who has been snowboarding for three years.

With the 5 Star Red Bull Nanshan Open set to return for the 10th year to suburban Beijing's Nanshan Ski Resort next month, it's shaping up to be a big year for the sport in China.

A large crowd braved the cold outside the Bird's Nest, showing up hours before the final decked out in fancy snowboarding outfits and holding posters of their favorites.

Sandbech, who also finished third last year, said the atmosphere has impressed him every time.

"The Bird's Nest is such an amazing building, the lights and architecture are so nice," he said. "It was incredible that I was able to snowboard here. When the lights went on, the audience started to scream and it cheered you up. It for sure makes you want to do your best."

White, the two-time Winter Olympics gold medalist, echoed Sandbech's sentiment.

"I was blown away to see the Chinese people show so much support for snowboarding," said the 26-year-old, who didn't compete this year because he was the event's ambassador.

"I was able to visit the Huaibei resort and I saw some of the local riders and I was impressed. It's great to see the level of local riding has improved greatly since last time I was here."

Lamm also pronounced himself impressed.

"Snowboarding is definitely up and coming in this huge country, with a very high degree of enthusiasm adopted by the authority and young people," he said.

"This event taking place here for the third consecutive time now is the clear proof of China's commitment to invest in our sport."


(China Daily 12/10/2012 page23)