Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov led the way in qualification in Copper Mountain ©Getty Images

Olympic champion Iouri Podladtchikov won his qualifying heat as action began at the opening International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard Halfpipe World Cup of the season at the American resort of Copper Mountain.

The Russian-born Swiss, the gold medallist at Sochi 2014, topped heat two with the highest score of the day, 94.50.

Twenty-eight-year-old Podladtchikov, the world champion in 2013, recently announced that he hopes to compete in the first Olympic skateboarding competition at Tokyo 2020.

But he proved today that he remains more than adept on the snow with a fine routine. 

Only the top five in each heat earned a place in Saturday's (December 17) 10-man final with a second Swiss winning heat two in Patrick Burgener.

He was tallied at 92.25 and will be looking forward to a battle for top honours with Podladtchikov. 

On a good day for the Swiss, three more of their snowboarders made the final with Christian Haller, Jan Scherrer and David Habluetzel all advancing.

Elena Hight was best in qualification among the women ©Getty Images
Elena Hight was best in qualification among the women ©Getty Images

Four Americans also went through in Chase Jorsey, Gregory Bretz, Danny Davis and Louie Vito.

Australian world champion Scotty James completes the final line-up at the Colorado venue, with Japan's defending overall World Cup champion Ryō Aono not on the start-list today. 

In the women's competition, only the top six earned spots in the final from a single 31-snowboarder heat.

American Elena Hight topped the pile, tallying a total of 89.50 for her display.

China's Lia Jiayu, the 2009 world champion, followed in second with 88.25.

That put her in front of her compatriot Cai Xuetong, the defending World Cup winner and world champion who scored 85.50.

Americans Chloe Kim and Hannah Teter also qualified for Saturday's final, with Switzerland's Verena Rohrer completing the field.