Wellington, Sep 7 : Chinese skier Zhang Kexin kicked off the 2019-20 FIS Freeski World Cup season in style by claiming victory at the season opener in Cardrona, New Zealand on Saturday.
Zhang, 17, took her third World Cup win, beating compatriot Eileen Gu by two points. 15-year-old teenager Gu took an early lead in the women's final after putting down a score of 88.80 in the run one. But Zhang landed a back-to-back switch 90.00s combination on her run two and pocketed a score of 91.00, which turned out to be the highest of the final. Gu improved her score to 89.00 in the second round to lock down the silver, while Russia's Valeriya Demidova, 19, finished in third place with an 87.80 in her last try.
In the men's competition, Birk Irving of the United States, 20, finished a left side double 1440 safety and an unheard-of double flat spin 720 on his final hit, which earned him a score of 95.60 and sent him to the top of the podium for the second time of his career.
Irving's teammates on the United States Aaron Blunck also produced his best in the third run to win a bronze medal with a score of 92.80. Canadian skier Noah Bowman finished 93.40 to take the silver.
The 2019-20 FIS Freeski Halfpipe World Cup is to stage five events and the third stop is scheduled from December 18 to 20 in Chongli, where the skiing events of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games will be held and where Zhang dominated the show in the last two years.(XINHUA)