SAPPORO – Eri Yanetani won the first gold medal of the 2017 Asian Winter Games in the women’s giant slalom in snowboarding on Sunday, when Shinnosuke Kamino also medaled for Japan, a bronze in the men’s event.
Yanetani was first in both of her runs despite slipping in her second attempt to clock a 1 minute, 43.47 second total. The Chinese pair of Zang Ruxin (1:45.70) and Gong Naiyang (1:45.81) filled the podium at Sapporo Teine.
“My sole focus was on not slowing down at the turns. The course was easy to race in and I gave it all I had,” Yanetani said. “I’ve been struggling at World Cup meets lately, but I was sure the results will come my way if I do what I’m capable of.”
Yanetani, who did not make the Japanese team for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, underwent left-knee surgery in April and was struggling to find her form, but Sunday’s win may have eased her insecurities a year away from the Pyeongchang Olympics.
“It took me half a year to get back on the snow after the operation. I haven’t been competing very well and I suppose that was in part due to the anxiety coming from not having had enough practice, but today’s win may have changed that,” she said.
“Making the finals at World Cup events on a consistent basis is my goal for next season. If I can do that, then I can definitely say I’ll try for a medal at the Olympics next year. I want to take it one step a time.”
Kamino had the best time among the men’s boarders in his second run for a 1:37.14 total, finishing behind South Korean Lee Sang-ho (1:35.76) and Choi Bo-gun (1:36.44).
“I had to win a medal since we’re holding the meet in Japan, and it came down to whether I can get myself back into contention with the second run,” Kamino said.
“I wanted the gold medal so I can’t be too happy, but it is one of the first medals for Japan so hopefully it will encourage the rest of the team.”