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Three Japanese women ranked within the top six qualifiers at the end of their runs on Wednesday during the Beijing Olympic snowboard halfpipe competition.

Mitsuki Ono led the way behind only American Chloe Kim, with the Japanese scoring 83.75 points in her second run which was four points short of Kim's qualifer-topping opening run.

Ono opened her run with a frontside 900 and added in back-to-back 720s to better her first effort which garnered 79.50 from the judges.

"My second run was cleaner and the increase in points reflects that," Ono said. "I did better than I did in practice. I want to get good height and that is what I want people to see."

"I've been feeling really good since my practice sessions and I'm happy to have cleanly landed all my moves today," Ono told reporters. "I'm going to give it everything I've got in the final and if that comes with the medal, that's great," she said.

Japanese sisters Sena and Ruki Tomita kept it close on the rankings, slotting into fifth and sixth, with only 1.5 points separating them on their first runs. Both will join Ono in the final which will be contested on Thursday.

The other Japanese to take part, Kurumi Imai, failed to qualify to the final, with her best run of 54.75 only enough to put her into 15th place.

American Chloe Kim practices before the qualification round of the women's snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Wednesday at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China. | REUTERS
American Chloe Kim practices before the qualification round of the women’s snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Wednesday at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China. | REUTERS

Kim, who at 17 became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboard gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games in 2018, scored 87.75 in her first run, but fell in her second try after fumbling the landing of a backside trick seconds after dropping into the halfpipe.

The American, now 21, took nearly two years off the mountain to focus on her studies and her mental health after she suffered burnout in the wake of her last Olympics.

Taking third place at the event was Chinese four-time Olympian Cai Xuetong, 28, who took fifth at the Games in 2018.

Cai said she was happy about the day's performance and was trying to remain relaxed going into Thursday's final.

"I don't want to give myself too much stress," the veteran said, after her best score of 83.25 guaranteed her a spot in the final.

Pyeongchang silver medallist Liu Jiayu of China, seconds into her first run, fell near the bottom of the pipe and held her helmeted head in her hands for a moment before standing up.

Liu squeaked into the final in seventh place.

"Of course I have more tricks prepared for the final and a higher goal (to win gold) this time," she said.

Each boarder got two runs in the halfpipe, with their ranking going into the final determined by their best score out of the two runs. The top 12 female boarders from Wednesday's qualifiers will advance to the final.

The competition took place at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, where riders dropped into the halfpipe under clear skies with temperatures hovering around minus 13 degrees Celsius.

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