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Snowboarders Reira Iwabuchi and Hiroaki Kunitake meet Olympic qualification criteria

Kyodo

Reira Iwabuchi and Hiroaki Kunitake are among four snowboarders who met the qualification criteria for February’s Pyeongchang Olympics on Friday, according to requirements set by the Ski Association of Japan.

On the same day bad weather forced the cancellation of a World Cup meet in Laax, Switzerland, teenagers Iwabuchi and Kunitake each fulfilled the SAJ’s Olympic qualification criteria through having taken at least one top-eight result in a World Cup event or at the world championships.

Iwabuchi can be selected to compete in the women’s slopestyle and big air events at the Feb. 9-25 Olympics, as can Asami Hirono. Kunitake and Yuri Okubo are in line to take part in the respective men’s events.

Fifteen-year-old Kunitake and Iwabuchi, who is one year older, each garnered three finishes in the top eight at World Cup events in the current season, including taking silvers at the slopestyle event on Jan. 12 in Aspen, Colorado. Iwabuchi is the top-ranked competitor in the women’s slopestyle while Kunitake is third in the men’s.

Slopestyle and big air competitors Yuka Fujimori and Miyabi Onitsuka secured berths for Japan last December.