Fri, February 27, 2009
Sports > Popular News > 24th Winter Universiade

Chinese snowboard team progressing, Europeans dominate as usual

2009-02-27 08:25:16 GMT2009-02-27 16:25:16 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Russia's Vitaly Kartsev competes during the qualifications of men's snowboard cross in the 24th World Winter Universiade at the Maoershan Ski Resort, 85km southeast from Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb. 20, 2009. Vitaly Kartsev took the 11th place after the qualifications with 1:01.73. (Xinhua/Li Ga)

Mateusz Ligocki of Poland competes during the qualifications of men's snowboard cross in the 24th World Winter Universiade at the Maoershan Ski Resort, 85km southeast from Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb. 20, 2009. Mateusz Ligocki took the first place after the qualifications with 58.13. (Xinhua/Liao Yujie)

China's Li Fengfeng competes during the qualifications of men's snowboard cross in the 24th World Winter Universiade at the Maoershan Ski Resort, 85km southeast from Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb. 20, 2009. Li took the 28th place after the qualifications with 1:05.79. (Xinhua/Liao Yujie)

Zsolt Nemeth of Hungary competes during the qualifications of men's snowboard cross in the 24th World Winter Universiade at the Maoershan Ski Resort outside Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb. 20, 2009. Zsolt Nemeth took the 30th place after the qualifications with 1:08.19. (Xinhua/Liao Yujie)

MAOERSHAN, Northeast China, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Snowboard had rarely came to headlines in China.

But at the Winter Universiade, Liu Jiayu's dazzling shows that broke through the dominance of Europeans brought it to spotlight.

18-year-old Liu, fresh from winning the World Championship in the beginning of the year, lightened the half-pipe ramp with two electrifying runs on Wednesday.

Soaring grabs, flawless tricks and full rotations in the air, Chinese world champion was awarded by judges with highest 46.7 points among the six finalists. That put her in the top place with overwhelming advantages.

For the first time to win a world's event before home crowds, Liu said she was a little nervous but tried to believe in herself.

"As there were few top skiers in the Universiade, I just tried to focus on my runs and did what I could to show my best form," she said.

With Liu's boost, Chinese snowboarders made a clean sweep of the podium when Sun Zhifeng and Xu Chen finished second and third respectively in 42.6 and 40.7 points.

Less than one year away from Vancouver Winter Olympics, the host's skiers had the promising prospect to win a first ever snowboard gold at Olympic arena. At least, Liu thought so.

"The Universiade's victory is a new start for me. You have to go higher after it, " said Liu, who eyed next year's Olympic debut show as a chance to prove she was not an inexperienced rookie.

"Olympic sport is not like other events. I hope I can stand onto the podium in Vancouver. I've been preparing for that moment for a lot time." she added.

Compared with women's overwhelming advantages, Chinese skiers still needed tests in men's close contest.

Zeng Xiaoye, the host's favorite who ranked first after two-round heats, failed to bounce back from a lackluster first show in the final, finishing only third with 39.4 points after the second try. The gold went to Japanese Kazuhiro Kokubo, who made two huge runs that earned him 46.0 points.

Out of the half-pipe, European skiers showed their dominance in the other two racing disciplines when Austrians grabbed half golds on offer.

Snowboard cross, which made Olympic debut in Turin, 2006, barged into the Universiade with thrills and spills.

French skier Claire Chapotot, the Euro Cup winner in Austria last month, managed to miss the mayhem around her in the heat, quarter-final and semi-final, storming to overtake the lead in a close final to clinch the first gold medal of the event.

Though getting bumped on some jumps, sometimes even falling in tangled heaps on the snow, the fearless girl still could regain the pace and jostled for the lead in her dazzling aerial tricks.

On men's side, Austria's skier Andreas Lausegger raced to victory with a late lighting spurt to cheer hundreds of frozen spectators at the foot of the steep slope. Andreas aroused thunderous applauses and screams when he delivered a powerful aerial jump to burst past his opponent, which could show the passion of the sport.

In parallel giant slalom, Anja Puggl gifted Austrial the second gold after her steady run in the women's final. Viktor Kulikov made a splash later in men's arena as the Russian rider smashed the dominant Austrian's double gold dream, surpassing the favorite Andreas with an extra burst of pace to win the gold in the wildly unexpected.

The six-day Universiade snowboarding events concluded on Friday afternoon with the men's big air as the closing exhibition show as the sport had not been put onto the Olympic programme.

Japanese skier Kazuhiro Kokubo outscored the Estonia's favorite Mark Duubas in two-time best combined 54.8 points to claim the title. It was also the Japanese second gold at Universiade after his triumph at the half-pipe contest, which could be seen as a big step for Asian's snowboarders.

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