Australian and Swiss victory in the FIS World Cup skicross finals
18 year old Fanny Smith (SUI) could celebrate her first World Cup victory today, just one day after her team mate, Patrick Gasser won his first title. Smith crashed in the semi finals yesterday and ended fifth. Today noone could beat her, and the first World Cup title was a fact. Winning ahead of Olympic Champion Ashleigh McIvor (CAN) and Heidi Zacher (GER), the young Swiss athlete could not hope for a better start of the season.
2010 has been like a dream for Smith. In the beginning of last season she was on the podium twice. During the Olympic Games in Vancouver she came 7th and won a diplomas, by the end of last season she was awarded "Rookie of the Year" from FIS and in August she won the Junior World Championships in New Zealand. If things continue this way, Smith will surely be an athlete to watch out for the coming years.
On the mens side, Australian racer Scott Kneller claimed a historic World Cup gold medal in Italy in just his second season. It is just the fourth time an Australian has stood on the podium in this fdiscipline, and was an enormous upset as the racer entered the final with the 12th-best qualifying time. The 21-year-old crossed the line in San Candido a mere 20cm ahead of Switzerland's Alex Fiva, with American John Treller rounding out the top three. The victory made Kneller Australia's first World Cup gold medallist of the freestyle skiing season and put him in second place on the overall standings.
"Scotty skied to perfection today and it was a credit to how smartly he executed what we spoke about before the final," coach Matt Lyons said.
"We talked about the need to wait for the right moment and race strategically, which is what he did to perfection today."
Lyons added that Kneller, who hopes to finish the year with a top-five ranking, has always had the potential to succeed ever since switching from alpine skiing.
Kneller had shown his potential at February's Winter Olympics, finishing seventh, after just missing out on qualifying for the four-man final.
The overall World Cup Standing is led by Anna Homlund (SWE) and Patrick Gasser (SUI).
Read more about Saturdays finals here: http://www.fisfreestyle.com/uk/news/swiss-and-swedish-victory-the-first-fis-skicross-world-cup,163.html