December 11 - Snowboarders and figure skaters made their first outings on the second day of action at the 26th Winter Universiade here as Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic and Russia's Nikolay Olyunin dominated the qualification rounds in the snowboarding competition here.
Fresh from a World Cup win in Austria, Samkova is many people's favourite to take gold here in the snowboard cross and she showed why by putting in two impressive runs with the fastest clocking a time of 45:72sec to put her through to the finals tomorrow.
The 20-year-old finished ahead of teammate Chourova Katerina, who clocked 48:18, while Poland's Zuzanna Smykala completed the top three in 48:30.
Japan's Iwadare Karen and Irina Kovaleva also impressed while home fans will be delighted that both Julia Manfrini and Greta Felder made it through to the final round.
Olyunin, the 2010 world junior champion, was in similarly effective form as he cruised through to the final with consummate ease clocking a fastest time of 43:68, making him the man to beat.
Austria's They Douschan registered his quickest run with a time of 44:55 to finish behind the Russian, while Dawid Wal of Poland was next fastest with 44:65.
Italian interest is provided in the form of Federico Ghezze and Varesco George, 14th and 20th respectively.
The Ice Stadium here witnessed a shock even before the figure skating competition got underway as World Championship silver medallist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan had to pull out of the competition after injuring himself in the warm-up.
With Ten out of the equation, Nan Song of China took full advantage in the short programme putting in a near perfect performance to score 81.56 points to put him in pole position for a gold.
Russia's Junior World Championship silver medallist Gordei Gorshov was well behind in second place with a score of 70.73, while a score of 69.47 has Japan's Yoji Tsuboi in third.
Tsuboi's compatriot Akio Sasaki, China's Jinlin Guan and Moris Kvitelashvili of Russia are well placed to aim for a podium spot tomorrow when skaters will complete the competition with the free programme.
Olympian Paolo Bacchini was the best of the Italian skaters and although he has qualified for tomorrow's final, he will be disappointed with his 16th place finish today which was not helped by a fall while Saverio Giacomelli just squeezed into the top 24 to ensure a second day on the ice.
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