Snowboarder Lee lands Korea’s first Winter Asiad gold

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Snowboarder Lee lands Korea’s first Winter Asiad gold


Alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho claimed the men’s giant slalom race in Sapporo, Japan, on Saturday. It was Korea’s first gold medal at a Winter Asiad. [YONHAP]

Alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho won Korea’s first gold medal at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, on Sunday.

Lee claimed the men’s giant slalom race at Sapporo Teine, with the combined time of 1:35.76 after two runs. This was also Korea’s first snowboard gold medal at a Winter Asiad.

Fellow Korean Choi Bo-gun got the silver with 1:36.44, and Shinnosuke Kamino of Japan won the bronze with 1:37.14.

The Asian Games’ opening ceremony was scheduled for later Sunday, and the medal ceremony for the men’s giant slalom and the women’s giant slalom was scheduled during the opening event at Sapporo Dome.’

The medalists were determined after two runs. In the opening run, four Korean boarders occupied the first four spots, as Lee led the field of 22 boarders with 51.94 seconds, followed by Choi at 52.02, Ji Myung-kon at 52.27 and Kim Sang-kyum at 53.13.

In the second run, Kim and Ji had mediocre runs to fall out of contention. Kamino, only sixth in the first run, posted the fastest second-run time of 43.75, but it wasn’t enough to overtake either Choi or Lee.

Choi, racing just before Lee, finished his second run in 44.42 seconds. Lee then topped him with 43.82 seconds to clinch the gold by 0.68 second.

Lee arrived in Sapporo as the No. 5 in the men’s giant slalom on the International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup standings this season, the highest among Asian snowboarders. He finished fourth in the parallel giant slalom at a World Cup race in Italy last December, the best World Cup showing ever by a Korean. Lee has also had two other top-five finishes at the World Cup this season.

The victory Sunday also erases disappointing memories from a week ago, when he got knocked out of the qualification round at the FIS World Cup in Pyeongchang, the Korean host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“I’ve been targeting an Asian Games gold this season, and I am so excited that I accomplished that goal,” Lee said. “This gives me a lot of confidence for the 2018 Olympics.”

In the women’s giant slalom earlier Sunday, two Koreans, Jeong Hae-rim and Shin Da-hae, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Shin finished her first run in 59.06 seconds to rank fourth, while Jeong was fifth in her first run with 59.67 seconds.

In the second run, Jeong finished her race in 48.46 seconds for the total of 1:48.13. She had the second-fastest time in the second run but still came up 2.32 seconds out of the bronze medal spot.

Shin posted 49.60 seconds in the second run and ended with 1:48.66.

Eri Yanetani of Japan won the very first gold medal of the Asian Games with a two-run total of 1:43.47. Zang Ruxin and Gong Naiyang, both of China, took home the silver and bronze medals, respectively.’

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