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Maltais off to a golden start

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Dominique Maltais kicked off the 2012-2013 snowboardcross season with a dominating performance at Montafon, Austria this past weekend, placing second in the qualification run and then winning all three rounds of racing.

In the final she bested an international crew that included Raffaela Brutto of Italy, Belle Brockhoff of Australia and Nelly Moenne Loccoz of France.

It was Maltais' first gold medal since February for the overall World Cup and crystal globe winner from last season and the 26th medal — eighth win — of her World Cup career.

"I worked hard all summer, practiced to stay strong and be comfortable when passing," said Maltais.

"I was fighting with (Brutto) all the way. There were a couple of passes but I passed her about 100 metres before the finish."

The other three Canadians were not able to advance past the first round, with Maélle Ricker placing 13th, Carle Brenneman in 16th and Jade Critchlow in 20th.

On the men's side the top Canadian was Jake Holden in 12th, followed by Christopher Robanske in 14th, Kevin Hill in 21st and Rob Fagan in 33rd. Fagan missed having a berth in the finals by just one tenth of a second.

Omar Visintin of Italy was first in the race, followed by Markus Schairer of Austria and Nick Baumgartner of the U.S. Alex Pullin of Austria also made the final bracket to place fourth.

There was a team event on the schedule as well, but that was cancelled due to snow.

Japanese teen wins opening big air

The first six-star event on the World Snowboard Tour took place in China on Saturday night with Air & Style Beijing presented by Oakley and Shaun White. It was a stadium big air contest that took place in the Olympic "Birds Nest" stadium with roughly 20,000 spectators looking on.

Out of nowhere, 16 year old Japanese rider Yuki Kadono won the event with a backside triple cork 1440 mute grab in his third run of the superfinal, netting 1,000 tour points plus the $25,000 U.S. first prize. He was the first competitor to land a triple corked trick on the tour and the youngest athlete to win the event since Shaun White himself. He's also the first Asian to win an Air & Style event.

"I have only stuck the trick once before and am always afraid before trying this very difficult trick, which makes it matter that much more that I landed it today," said Kadono through an interpreter.

Peetu Piiroinen of Finland placed second, followed by Stale Sandbech of Norway and Mathias Weissenbacher of Austria.

While nobody could touch Kadono, the Canadians weren't that far off the podium. Mark McMorris placed sixth overall behind American Sage Kotsenburg, while Antoine Truchon placed ninth, Maxence Parrot 11th and Sebastian Toutant 13th. No other nation had as many riders in the top 15.

There are eight six-star events on the World Snowboard Tour this year, which is the highest level of professional competition. Next up is the O'Neill Evolution Big Air and Halfpipe at Davos, Switzerland in January.

Whistler will host a five-star event during The Shred Show at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

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