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Onozuka captures bronze for Japan in ski halfpipe

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm •  Published: February 20, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Ayana Onozuka of Japan gave up speed on a downhill course for spins in a halfpipe.

Her reward? An Olympic bronze medal.

Onozuka turned in a high-flying run in the halfpipe Thursday night to finish behind gold medalist Maddie Bowman of the United States and runner-up Marie Martinod of France.

After that, she was greeted by a wave of fans very interested in her autograph.

That's now part of the territory for her nation's newest medalist.

"I'm really happy and really glad," said the 25-year-old Onozuka, who began her career as an Alpine skier before making the switch to ski halfpipe when it became an Olympic sport. "I got much more than I was expecting."

Maybe for her country, too. Japan won its fourth medal at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Snowboarders Ayumu Hirano and Taku Hiraoka set the tone last week by taking second and third in the halfpipe, finishing ahead of two-time defending gold medalist Shaun White.

On Wednesday, snowboarder Tomoka Takeuchi captured silver in women's parallel giant slalom.

Now, Onozuka further cemented her nation's rise in action sports.

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