Johnstone wins with career best form24 February 2012
Australia’s Nathan Johnstone emphatically won today’s World Cup snowboard halfpipe in Stoneham, Canada, while dominating the event from start to finish.
Johnstone, who recently turned 22, was never challenged on his way to the third World Cup victory of his career, which has shot the reigning World Cup Champion into second place in world rankings.
Johnstone’s victory is the second World Cup gold medal won by an Australian athlete in the last week. Aerials skier Laura Peel also won in Austria.
The Australian Institute of Sport / NSW Institute of Sport scholarship holder secured gold with a flawless performance in qualifying and then cemented his control of the event in the first run of the final to clinch the win 4.25 points ahead of Japan’s Taku Hiraoka and 7.25 points ahead of Finland’s veteran Janne Korpi in third place.
The performance prompted NSWIS halfpipe program coach Ben Alexander, who has steered Johnstone’s career for the last 10 years, to say that he has never seen the talented rider from NSW’s Perisher resort in better form.
“He was fantastic today,” Alexander declared.
“He was going bigger than anyone throughout the whole event. He was seven points ahead of second place in qualifying in very tough wet and bumpy conditions.
"In the final he couldn’t be beaten going into the second run.”
The win was even more impressive given that Johnstone did not need to use his latest weapon, a frontside double cork 1080.
The new trick was added to Johnstone’s “kitbag” before the start of the northern hemisphere season and so far he has used it only twice in competition.
“When you are riding as well as he did today, you don’t need to do bring out your best tricks,” Alexander said.
“He was going bigger, with cleaner tricks and more amplitude. If you’re ahead at the end of your run, that’s all you need to do.”
Jonstone’s lead-up to the World Cup fourth round was less than ideal.
After competing in Oslo, Norway, earlier this week, Johnstone flew seven hours to New York, took a further one and a half hour flight to Montreal before driving to Stoneham, arriving in Canada only a day and a half before the event started, almost 12 hours after leaving Norway.
The unavoidable travel schedule resulted in his training time being halved, not to mention a short recovery time from the long flight.
Alexander said Johnstone’s resilience was a result of the hard physical training he has done leading up to this season.
Alexander predicts that Johnstone has the talent to keep improving significantly for a number of years.
“He has definitely got a lot more in the bag and we’ll keep going with our plans.
"He is doing exceptionally well, enjoying riding with the best athletes in the world and he wants more.”
Seventeen-year-old Scott James added to Australia’s glory by achieving a World Cup career best fifth place. He finished with 84.5 points in a very strong finals performance.
Fellow Aussies Jarryd Williams and Samuel Murphy finished 32nd and 34th while Stephanie Magiros was 16th in the women’s event.