What are they feeding the kids in New Zealand? First there’s this ridiculous video of children who sound about 10 double corking everything in sight and now there’s this – a 14-year-old Japanese kid has just beaten the field of qualifiers to go through to the Burton NZ Open semi-finals in first place!
The pint-sized prodigy Taku Hiraoka threw down a run that went: method, crippler, backside 540 mute, frontside inverted 720, with a huge Haakon flip to finish, that earned him a cool 87.83 points. Just behind him came Keito Kumazaki with a score of 87.51. Bad weather apparently blighted many of the riders’ runs, but the Japanese shred-heads managed to soldier on regardless.
The story was the same with the women’s qualis – as the day went on, the weather got worse and many of the ladies struggled to land their tricks. Again though, the Japanese pulled through, claiming four of the five semi-final spots available. Hikaru Oe took the top spot with an impressive 95.00 points in a run that started with a Lien air, backside 540, frontside 540, backside air, and a stalefish. Haruna Matsumoto was second with 87.67 points, and Ryoko Iijima third with 79.83 points. Akiko Miwa and the German Silvia Muttermuller also qualified.
With the invited riders being given a direct passage through to the semi-finals, the competition is set to get more fierce, as the likes of Iouri Podlatchikov, Louie Vito and Kelly Clark are unlikely to roll over and let the kids win – but the fact remains that Hiraoka’s first place is a seriously impressive achievement. We’ll be keeping an eye on him in future!