• Kyodo

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Yuto Totsuka won his maiden halfpipe world title Saturday following an incredible final run at the FIS Snowboard and Freestyle Ski World Championships in Aspen.

With the victory, the 19-year-old denied Australia’s Scotty James a record fourth straight world title and underlined his status as the man to beat in the run-up to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Totsuka, who finished runner-up to rival James at the previous world championships, scored 96.25 to finish 5.75 points ahead of the Australian. Switzerland’s Jan Scherrer was third, 9.25 points behind Totsuka.

Three-time reigning world champ James took the lead after the first run, but Totsuka moved to the front of the pack in his second run, scoring 93.00. James was unable to match, leaving Totsuka in front coming into the final run.

The Japanese teenager saved his best for last, however, producing a phenomenal run that saw him blitz the field and finish ahead of James for a third straight time this season, following victories in Laax and at the X Games Aspen.

“After coming second last time, I’m happy to win the championship. I’ve won all my competitions so far this season, so if I can keep this up, I think I can do well at the Beijing Winter Olympics,” Totsuka said.

Raibu Katayama was next among the Japanese in ninth place, with Ruka Hirano 12th and Kaishu Hirano 13th.

Pyeongchang Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim of the United States took out the women’s event ahead of compatriot Maddie Mastro and Spain’s Queralt Castellet.

Japan’s Sena Tomita, Haruna Matsumoto and Mitsuki Ono finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, while Kurumi Imai was eighth.

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