FIS Snowboard World Cup season. Both joint favorites for victory earned the top spot in a high class final held at Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort, New Zealand, due to extremely high executed runs.
A field of twelve men and six women including some of the world's best riders competed in a two-run final with men and women alternating runs. With fresh snow overnight, the 22ft pipe was in great condition and the riders executed huge tricks and flips of true World Cup standard. The gusty wind conditions created an additional challenge for the athletes.
Ryo Aono set the bar high scoring 92.75 on his first run, this gave him the confidence to push harder on the second and execute a new trick, a backside 12. Aono's second run demonstrated great technical ability with a blistering 95.25 point performance which included an air to fakie tail, followed by a cab 10 lean, in to a frontside 9, backside 12 and finishing with a frontside 10.
"The competition went really well for me today; I am so excited to win. We have a strong Japanese halfpipe team and we are looking forward to the rest of the 2012 season", said Aono.
Competing in his first World Cup event Shuhei Sato (JPN) recovered well from a fall in his first run and took out second place with a score of 88.5, Yiwei Zhang (CHN) placed third with 84.00 points despite riding with a broken hand.
The women's competition was tight with the wind playing a bigger role for the lighter riders. Not landing her first run of the finals the pressure was on Clark to perform on the second. She pulled out a frontside 7 indy, cab 7 mute, frontside air, backside 5 mute and finished with a front 5 japan to receive the winning score of 83.0. World number two Sophie Rodriguez (FRA) took out second place with 81.75 points and Queralt Castellet (ESP) taking third place with 71.75 points.
"It was a great competition today, the pipe is the best it has been. Not completing my first run provides a good opportunity to come from behind, I enjoyed this and happy to be on top of the podium as the girls are riding great at the moment and really pushing the boundaries. I am looking forward to coming back next year for the Winter Games", said Clark.