The 19-year-old Olympian produced a stunning display to pip the Chinese duo of Leng Qui and Shooting Wu to the top spot on the podium.
Imai opened her first run with a massive frontside 720 before following up with a near flawless run punctuated by soaring hits that she carried out of the pipe.
Her score of 89.25 earned her the gold medal, ahead of Qui who posted a second run of 83.5 for silver, with Wu earning bronze with her 70.50 first run score.
The men’s halfpipe competition went the way of the host nation as Nikia Avtaneev took the gold in a competition which went down to the final run.
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The Russian had it all to do as first run leader Leejun Kweon of South Korea came back with an even higher scoring second run. However the 24-year-old from responded with a frontside 1080 and a double-cork 1080 and with a best run score of 89.25 ensured top spot on the podium.
Kweon’s score of 83.5 ensured silver, whilst Alex Helen of Finland’s second run score of 81.5 earned him the bronze.
Russia also proved successful in the men’s relay of cross-country skiing at Raduga Cluster.
Fifteen countries took part in the final with teams from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Norway, Canada, the USA, Korea, France, China, Austria, and Finland battling it out across four stages of 7.5 kilometres each. The first two stages were to be raced in classic technique, while the rest were to be completed in freestyle technique.
Russia and Kazakhstan took the initiative after the start and went on to dominate the race; the hosts stretching a lead to over a minute at one stage whilst the Kazakh’s had to withstand a challenge from Finland who overtook them briefly before regaining second position.
The Russian quartet of Ivan Kirillov, Anton Timashov, Kirill Kilivnyuk and Ivan Yakimushkin were untroubled and took the gold medal in a time of 1:15.22,22.
Kazakhstan held on for silver coming home over a minute adrift of the winners in a time of 1:16.48,83, with Finland taking bronze in 1:17.09,1.
The host nation continued their dominance of the biathlon at the Winter Universiade by picking up gold in the single mixed relay.
Singe Mixed Relay is a new discipline in the Winter Universiade Biathlon programme with the race having its own unique features. Athletes have to race a comparatively short distance (six kilometres for women and seven and a half kilometres for men) with each competitor passing through four shooting ranges.
Despite tough competition, the Russian pairing of Valeriia Vasnetsova and Alexander Dediukhin prevailed to take gold although the destination of the medals went right down to the latter stages of the race.
Dediukhin and David Tolar of the Czech Republic got to the shooting range simultaneously, but the Russian athlete managed to hit all the targets quicker and got an advantage of 8.2 seconds prior to the last lap. That proved decisive as Vasnetsova and Dediukhin finished first in a time of 42.53,4 (4+17) to take the gold medal.
Tolar and partner Natalie Yurchova had to settle for silver for the Czech Republic in 42.59,9 (1+17), ahead of the French duo of Marine Challamel and Felix Cottet Puinel who claimed bronze with a time of 43.45,2 (5+10).
Austria’s alpine skiers broke the Russian medal dominance for once as they took the gold medal in the parallel nation’s team event.
Parallel Nations Team Event (PNTE) is a relatively new discipline in Alpine Skiing that was only acknowledged as an Olympic sport at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. In the course of preparations for this year’s Winter Universiade, the team competitions were first held in at the Funpark Bobrovy Log in Krasnoyarsk exactly one year ago. Those test events demonstrated the whole spectacular potential of the race so there was a lot of expectation heading into these competitions.
There were two parallel courses at 422 metres long with 16 teams from different countries putting forward the strongest of their Alpine skiers (two women and two men). The athletes aim is to win every race and add a point to their teams’ score with the participants running different courses every time with the results then registered for each one of them.
Having won all preliminary races, the teams of Austria and Russia met in the grand final and it was the former’s quartet of Jessica Gfrerer, Richard Leitgeb, Denise Dingsleder and Julian Kenreich who landed the gold medals.
Sweden’s four skiers, who all study at the same university of Mittuniversitetet, beat the Czech Republic’s quartet in the minor final to take the bronze.
There was joy for Sweden’s women’s bandy team as they reaffirmed their status of best in the world by taking gold in a dramatic final against Russia.
The group stage encounter between the two had seen the Russians win 4-2 so this final meeting was eagerly-anticipated and did not disappoint.
Russia led within the first fifteen minutes and after the Swedes had a goal disallowed the hosts added a second just before half time for a 2-0 interval lead. Sweden pulled a goal back at the very beginning of the second half, before they grabbed an equaliser a matter of minutes later.
However the Russians struck back to edge ahead 3-2 and were on course for victory when the world champions equalised with two minutes remaining. Into extra time and Sweden went ahead for the first time in the first minute of additional time before they doubled their advantage minutes later to make it 5-3. And that’s how it stayed with the Swedes claiming the first-ever bandy gold in the history of the Winter Universiade.
There was better news for the hosts late on Friday as they won their fifth and sixth figure skating medals of the Winter Universiade.
The Russians dominated the figure skating competition once again, taking home the gold and silver in the pairs’ ice dance competition with Betina Popova and Sergey Mozgov taking gold with a score of 183.01, with their fellow countrymen Sofia Evdokimova and Egor Bazin taking the silver with a score of 181.33. Adelina Galyavieva and Louis Thauron from France won bronze with a score of 177.23.
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