Dark Horse Yuki Kadono Makes History at the Oakley and Shaun White present Air + Style Beijing
Walking into the Bird’s Nest Stadium, the Olympic legacy lingers and the energy from the greatness these walls have witnessed echoes throughout the arena as 24 of the world’s top snowboarders file in for the 2012 Oakley and Shaun White present Air + Style Beijing 2012.
The riders wasted no time gearing up in Round 1 dropping some of the event’s highest scores right off the bat. The action saw some unforeseen talent rise to the occasion and others, including 2011 Air + Style Beijing Champ Ulrik Badertscher, fall victim to the pace.
16-year old Yuki Kadono of Japan, made his presence known in Round two dropping a pair of high scoring runs to eliminate Emil Ulstetten, one of the first round leaders.
With the head-to-head event format there is no room for error, especially when the talent pool is this deep.
Fellow Oakley teammate and event standout, Stale Sandbech kept his Air +Style campaign alive with a formidable frontside nine to advance from Round 2 into the final elimination round along side Kadono and Mark McMorris.
McMorris, a favorite going into the event, made Air + Style history landing the contest series’ first triple cork in his final Round 3 run. Unfortunately for McMorris, who had been one of the most consistent competitors across the event’s first two rounds, the backside triple cork 1440 fell just short of the 87.33 points he needed to best Matthias Weissenbacher and claim one of the four coveted Super Final spots as his own.
Two of the four Super Final spots did however go to Oakley athletes. And both, Stale Sandbech and Yuki Kadono showed just why they deserved to be there with dominating performances over Matthias Weissenbacher and Peetu Piiroinen.
That’s not to say that the Super Final was not a nail biter however. Stale opened the round with a backside 1440 for which he earned a whopping 92 (out of 100) points and celebrated with a post run handstand at the base of the ramp. He held the lead uncontested through the second run, but when he failed to improve his score again on his third and final run he left the door open for his competitors to try and close the gap, which is exactly what Peetu Piiroinen of Finland did launching a stylish cab 1260 melon for 93.33 points to snatch the lead with just two runs remaining. With such a massive score needed to take out the new leader, the two riders who snuck into the Super Final under everyone’s radar were facing a tall order. No one could have foretold the events that were about to transpire…
Matthias Weissenbacher cracked under the pressure bobbling the landing of his backside double cork 1080 and confirmed his fourth place finish after a trying first two Super Final runs. Up next, for the final run of the entire event was Oakley young gun Yuki Kadono.
While Yuki had been claiming style points all night long, he hadn’t necessarily been dropping the most technical jumps of the event, so when he launched a stunning
backside triple cork 1440 and stomped the landing the judges rewarded him with a near perfect 97.67 points and ultimately the 2012 Air + Style Beijing title.
“I am very happy about today´s win. It is a great honor to be the first Air + Style winner from Asia and the first to win an Air + Style event with a triple cork,” said Yuki after the event. “I have only stuck [the triple cork] once before and am always afraid before trying this very difficult trick, which makes it matter that much more that I landed it today."
Yuki blew threw this contest like a swift winter storm, surprising everyone in the arena, including himself and event host Shaun White.
“Tonight’s event was amazing. I was blown away to see the Chinese people show so much support for snowboarding. It is really inspiring,” said Shaun White. “Yuki Kadono killed it tonight and he definitely deserved to win, congrats to all the riders for helping to support Oakley and Air+Style in China tonight.”
Congrats indeed! The Oakley and Shaun White present Air + Style Beijing bore witness to some truly progressive snowboarding and shared the sport with new fans of who left the Bird’s Nest buzzing with good vibes courtesy of the rider’s epic performances.
Thanks to all the competitors for laying it all on the line with each and every run in true Oakley fashion.
Super Final Results:
1. Yuki Kadono
2. Peetu Piiroinen
3. Stale Sandbech
4. Matthias Weissenbacher