Chinese world champion Liu Jiayu boosted her confidence to Vancouver Olympics here on Wednesday, nailing her first gold medal of the Universiade with two electrifying runs in untouchable height.
18-year-old Liu, fresh from winning the World Championship in the beginning of the year, kicked off her first run with two soaring opening grabs and three flawless tricks that earned him 45.6 points, which was the highest among the six finalists for her impalpable height in the air and aerial agility.
In the second round, Liu rallied to nail four big tricks that involves three full rotations in the air, awarded by judges with 46.7 points. That put her in the top place with overwhelming advantages. Liu's teammates Sun Zhifeng and Xu Chen finished second and third respectively in 42.6 and 40.7 points.
"The Universiade's victory is a new start for me. But you have to go higher after it," said Liu, who eyed next year's Vancouver as a chance to prove she was not an inexperienced rookie, especially when it would be her Olympic debut show.
"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.
China's Liu Jiayu gestures during the women half pipe final of snowboarding at the 24th World Winter Universiade at the Maoershan Ski Resort in Maoershan Town, 85km southeast from Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Feb. 25, 2009. Liu won the gold medal with 46.7 points. [Xinhua Photo]
On men's side, Japanese snowboarder Kokubo Kazuhiro outscored the host's favorite with two steady runs to claim the title.
Kazuhiro, runner-up in 2007 world championship, opened with a soaring grab and a back-to-back trick that involves making three full rotations in the air for 41.9 points. That put him second at the close of the first round, with Kim Ho-jun of South Korea on top of the 12 finalists with 43.8 points.
Feeling the pressure, the Japanese dropped into the pipe with a huge run that earned him 46.0 points, enough to seize the gold after his Korean opponent made a big mistake in the second round.
Zeng Xiaoye, the host's favorite who ranked first after Tuesday's two-round heats, failed to bounce back from a lackluster first show earning just 27.8 points, finishing only third with 39.4points after the second try.
The other two Chinese finalists Shi Wancheng and Xu Dechao ranked eighth and 12th respectively with 35.7 and 21.2 points.
The six-day Universiade snowboarding events at Maoershan Ski Resort, the branch venue of the host city Harbin, will conclude on Friday with the men's big air competition, after medals already distributed for half-pipe and two other disciplines: snowboard cross and parallel giant slalom.
(Xinhua News Agency Feburary 26, 2009)