INAWASHIRO, Fukushima Pref. (Kyodo) Aiko Uemura won the women’s moguls final to claim her first title at the World Freestyle Skiing Championships on Saturday.

Uemura became the first Japanese freestyle skier to win a world championship crown with a high score of 24.71 and with the result booked her ticket to next year’s Vancouver Winter Olympics.

“I am happy that I was able to ski in my own style. I am satisfied that I was able to be aggressive on the course,” said Uemura. “I intend to make steady efforts as I aim for the Vancouver Olympics.”

Turin Olympic champion Jennifer Heil of Canada was second with 22.88, while Czech Nikola Sudova placed third with 21.76.

Miki Ito (21.35) was fourth and Tae Satoya (18.64), who won the gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, was back in ninth.

Uemura took full advantage of her trademark turns to qualify in first place on the difficult course and cranked it up a notch in the final, captivating the crowd with spectacular twists, air maneuvers and speed.

Uemura, who captured the overall World Cup moguls crown last season, improved on her previous high mark of two third-place finishes at a world championships.

She will make her fourth consecutive Olympic appearance since debuting as a high school student at the Nagano Games. A fifth-place result is her best to date at the 2006 Turin Games.

In the men’s moguls action, Nobuyuki Nishi just missed a podium finish with a fourth-place result in the event won by Patrick Deneen of the United States. Tapio Luusua of Finland was second and third place went to Canadian Vincent Marquis.

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