Updated: Tuesday, 11 February 2014 22:33 | By Agence France-Presse

White makes light of tough halfpipe to reach final

Snowboarding superstar Shaun White made light of a difficult halfpipe to reach the Sochi Olympic final with the best score in Tuesday's heats.

White makes light of tough halfpipe to reach final

US Shaun White competes in the Men's Snowboard Halfpipe qualifications at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 11, 2014 - by Franck Fife

The American two-time defending champion finished top of the second heat with a score of 95.75. Japan's Taku Hiraoka was second on 92.25 and Danny Davis of the United States third (92.00).

Another Japanese, the diminutive Ayumu Hirano, considered the biggest threat to White's three-in-a-row hopes, took the first heat with 92.25 points ahead of Swiss pair Christian Haller (83.75) and David Habluetzel (81.00).

The top three from each heat progressed straight into the final with the next six in each heat going through to a second chance semi-final, in which the top six will also make the final.

Switzerland's Iouri Podladtchikov, one of the favourites, almost missed out but finished eighth in the second heat with 82.00 to ensure he will get another chance.

On Monday several boarders complained about the state of the pipe. White described it as "far from perfect" and Australian women's favourite Torah Bright's coach and brother Ben Bright told the Sydney Morning Herald it was "retarded".

But others such as Canada's Crispin Lipscomb, who was knocked out, claimed the better riders would all manage the pipe well.

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