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  • Around Innsbruck 2012 -- Ski Halfpipe Makes Spectacular Debut at Youth Olympics


    (ATR) Throwing a spectacular array of tricks in the 180-meter long superpipe at the Kühtai freestyle and snowboarding venue, Switzerland’s Kai Mahler captured gold in the freestyle skiing halfpipe event Sunday.

    Action from the skiing halfpipe competition.
    “It feels so great – I’m so proud right now and can’t believe it,” said Mahler.

    Freestyle skiing halfpipe officially became part of the Olympic program for Sochi 2014 when the IOC decided to include the event this past April.

    “With all the people coming out here today and being in Sochi 2014 will definitely push the sport forward,” added Mahler.

    Aaron Blunck of the U.S., who finished third, also spoke about the future that lies ahead for the exciting and highly entertaining new Olympic sport .

    “It means a lot because we can now look forward to something other than the X-Games and look beyond and go further with the sport,” said the 15-year-old Colorado native.

    And Blunck believes Olympic status will also make a significant difference in terms of finances for the sport.

    “It’s really important that we are in the Olympics and that so much more money will come into the sport,” he said.

    “People will realize how sweet of a sport that it really is.”

    And regarding future personal Olympic goals, Blunck said, “Sochi 2014 is a huge goal for me. Obviously, 2018 is a little bit more realistic bit I’m definitely trying for Sochi.”

    Austria’s First Gold Medal

    Elisabeth Gram.
    With an enthusiastic fan club cheering her on, Elisabeth Gram became the host nation’s first gold medalist soaring to victory in the ladies freestyle halfpipe.

    “Yesterday I was thinking what would it be like If I won gold and now its happened,” said Gram. “It’s just awesome, I don’t know what else I can say.”

    And regarding what will surely be an emotional downtown medal ceremony she said, “I saw it yesterday and I think it will be a big moment tonight. And then after that it’s most important that I will be with my family.”

    Kühtai Busy Venue for Media

    TheAlpenrose Hotel in Kühtai.
    Journalists working at the Kühtai venue – which is nearly 30-kilometers from Innsbruck and situated at 2020 meters, the highest resort in Austria – dealt with temperatures of minus 14 degrees Celsius during Saturday’s halfpipe events.

    Despite the bitter temperatures all seemed to go well at what was a busy venue with four medal events being contested. An additional bus was even added to the 11:00am run from the Main Press Center.

    The sub press center, situated just below the super pipe was maxed out with approximately 40 places being filled by journalists and cameramen.

    After events were completed and the awards ceremony took place, the volunteers were commended by their supervisor for a job well done.

    Snowboarding Halfpipe Gold for USA and Japan

    The United States claimed its first gold medal at the Games as Ben Ferguson won the snowboard halfpipe with a first run score of 93.25. Slovenia’s Tim-Kevin Ravnjak took silver while Japan’s Taka Hiroka earned bronze.

    On the ladies side, Japan also had success with Hikaru Ohe impressing the six judges with two high scores of 95.75 and 96.25, both of which were good enough for gold.

    Arielle Gold of the United States won silver while Arielle Lefevre grabbed bronze.

    Tomorrow’s Events

    On Monday, eight medal events are on the docket in Innsbruck.

    The first figure skating medals will be awarded at the Olympic Ice Stadium following both the Pairs and Men’s free skate programs.

    Speed skating, luge and biathlon also have medals for the taking in both men’s and women’s competitions.

    Written and reported in Innsbruck by Ed Hula and Brian Pinelli.

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