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Freestyle skiing: Sharpe sets pace in halfpipe qualifying

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Cassie Sharpe laid down the two highest-scoring runs of the competition as the Canadian topped the qualifying standings for the ski halfpipe final on Monday.

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Sharpe scored 93.00 on her first attempt and improved to 93.40 on her second to send a message to her rivals that she would be tough to beat in Tuesday’s final.

“I feel great and I feel confident,” Sharpe told reporters as she looked forward to being able to see all of her rivals ski ahead of her in the hunt for medals.

“The first run I just wanted to land, which is so key for my confidence. But after that I said I want to qualify in first because I want to drop last in the final.

“If you do well then you drop last in your victory lap, which is the best feeling in the world.”

The top 12 skiers from qualification progressed and there were few problems for the pre-Olympics medal favorites.

All three podium finishers from Sochi, including gold medalist Brita Sigourney, qualified, although the 2014 bronze medalist and reigning world champion Ayana Onozuka needed a second run to record a satisfactory score.

The Japanese tallied 84.80 to qualify in fifth place, while Sigourney qualified in third after two strong runs.

France’s Marie Martinod, the Sochi silver medalist, qualified in second and was another competitor to lay down two runs of more than 90 points.

“It doesn’t just depend on me, it depends on the others and the judges,” the 33-year-old said. “I just want to ski perfectly tomorrow (Tuesday) and that is probably what is going to happen because I have been working so hard for it.”

Tuesday’s final starts at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT)

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by John O’Brien