GANGWON – Ryo Aono made history Friday by clinching the men’s halfpipe gold medal at the Snowboard World Championships.
Aono, 18, had the highest score of 47.3 points on his second run, which included a 9.8 from Japanese judge Kyoji Yokoyama, to beat Canadian Jeff Batchelor and become the first rider from his country to win in any discipline at the snowboard worlds.
“The thrill is totally different to winning at a World Cup meet,” said Aono, who won the sixth World Cup title of his career in Japan last week.
“I am happy I could produce everything I have been working on in practice. I can’t sit back and just be satisfied with this. I have to keep growing,” he said.
Batchelor scored 44.4 to finish second, while defending world champion Mathieu Crepel of France had 43.3 for third. Turin Olympic halfpipe champion Shaun White of the United States did not compete.
Soko Yamaoka and Shiho Nakashima were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the women’s halfpipe final won by China’s Liu Jiayu.
Holly Crawford of Australia took the silver medal while the bronze went to Poland’s Paulina Ligocka.