• Kyodo

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Japan’s Mero Imai held on to her lead to capture the women’s half-pipe final at a World Cup event in Switzerland on Friday, while Kazuhiro Kokubo emerged victorious in the men’s event.

News photoJapan’s Mero Imai jubilates after winning the women’s half-pipe at the World Cup event in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, on Friday.

Imai, formerly Mero Narita, took the lead after her first run and earned 44.3 points on her second run to claim victory in her first event of the season.

It was the perfect start for Imai after a difficult offseason, during which a rift developed between the snowboarder and her father over his coaching methods. She left her club and decided to change her name.

“I struggled a bit with my equipment but I really wanted to win today,” said Imai. “Even though I am Imai (and not Narita) now I still want to continue showing strong performances.”

Kokubo, who was also competing in his first World Cup event of the season, performed strongly and scored 45.9 points on his second run to win the men’s half-pipe crown.

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