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Asian Winter Games Begins In Sapporo; Japan Wins First Gold Of The Games

By February 27, 2017 at 10:05 pm
Asian Winter Games 2017 Begins (Photo : Getty Images)

The Asian Winter Games is finally underway, with Japan and Korea off to strong starts.

The 2017 Asian Winter Games kicked off with a rousing opening ceremony on Sunday in Sapporo. It was a well-received affair that saw athletes from all over the world converging in Japan. The country's Crown Prince Naruhito, International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates and Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad Al Sabah, the head of the Olympic Council of Asia, also graced the event.

Japan's Eri Yanetani holds the distinction of winning the first gold medal of this year's Asian Winter Games. The renowned snowboarder came in top place in both runs of the women's snowboard giant slalom. She was joined at the winner's podium by Chinese duo Zag Ruxin and Gong Naiyang.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Lee Sang-ho won the men's giant slalom event. He clocked in at 1:35.76, narrowly winning over teammate Choi Bo-gun, who came in .68 seconds after. Japan's Shinnosuke Kamino placed third, coming in at 1:37.14.

Records are already being broken at Sapporo. In the men's 500m speed skating event, China's Gao Tingyu broke the previous record of 34.98 when he came in with a time of 34.69 seconds to win the gold. He was followed by Japan's Tsubasa Hasegawa and South Korea's Cha Min-kyu. The two clocked in at 34.79 and 34.94 seconds respectively.

The competition was also fierce at the women's 1,000m speed skating race. Also held at the Obihiro Forest Speed Skating Oval, the event was won by Japan's Nao Kodaira. She came in at 1:15.19, followed by compatriot Miho Takagi at 1:15.31. Zhang Hong of China (1:15.75), South Korea's Lee Sang-Hwa (1:16:01) and Japan's Go Arisa (1:16.18) rounded off the top 5.

The Asian Winter Games will run until February 26 and will see more than 2,000 athletes compete for glory in 5 sports and 64 events. Athletes from North Korea, Australia, and New Zealand are among the countries with representatives in the game.

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