Rebel Kokubo left in White's wake

Japanese snowboarders fall flat while U.S. sensation puts on show for second straight gold


Snowboarders Kazuhiro Kokubo and Ryo Aono failed to secure medals in the men’s halfpipe final at the Vancouver Olympics on Wednesday.

On a night when American Shaun White reigned supreme to defend his title on Cypress Mountain, Kokubo paid for a faulty landing on his double cork on the second run and only managed to finish eighth.

Kokubo, the 2007 world silver medalist, scored 35.7 points on his second run, while Aono had 32.9 and settled for ninth.

Both fell short of the best performance by a Japanese snowboarder at an Olympics, achieved by Takaharu Nakai, who placed fifth at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

“If you can’t land the double cork, you’re finished. I was able to show my style, so I have no regrets,” said Kokubo, who recently drew criticism for the way he wore Japan’s official Olympic uniform on his way to Vancouver. “I went through a lot but I am just glad that the fans rooted for me till the end. It’s good that I stuck with my style throughout.”

Kohei Kudo, who advanced to the semifinals, finished 14th, while Daisuke Murakami did not qualify.

With the gold medal already in the bag, White scored 48.4 on his second run, finishing off with his new high-octane Double McTwist 1260.

Peetu Piiroinen of Finland took the silver with 45.0, while bronze went to American Scott Lago, who had 42.8.