Dominique Maltais and Nate Holland claim victory at snowboard cross season’s opener in Lech
Dominique Maltais (CAN) and Nate Holland (USA) have won the first snowboard cross of the 2011 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup season. At Lech am Arlberg, Austria, a first time Snowboard World Cup venue, Maltais edged off her team mate Maelle Ricker to the runner-up spot after battling down a close ladies’ final. Yuka Fujimori (JPN) raced on her career’s first podium as third. On the men’s side, Nate Holland brought home an invulnerable victory after long-time leading and later on fourth ranked Canadian Dan Csokonay crashed at the half of the 1,250 metres long course at Schlegelkopf. Tom Velisek (CAN) and Austria’s Mario Fuchs rounded out the podium as second and third.
With his fourth win in his 48th World Cup start, Nate Holland underlined once again his special relationship with World Cup races held in Europe. The fourth ranked rider of the last Olympics celebrated all his career’s victories on European soil, two of them in Austria (2005: Sierra Nevada, Saas-Fee, 2010: Bad Gastein). “I love Austria. I always did well here. Bringing the momentum from Bad Gastein to Lech is amazing,” Holland said.
Before, the fan of the Squaw Valley, CA, resident just made it to the semi finals after having posted a successful protest in the quarter finals. According to this, Nikolay Olyunin (RUS) had gained an irregular advantage due to a supposed jump start and was disqualified after video control. “After that, I was on fire,” the fifth ranked rider of the qualifiers, who had been dominating the last five X-Games, said.
The reward after a long and exhausting race day, which brought – other than normally in the SBX World Cup circuit – the time trials and the finals on the same day, was not only the price check but also the lead in the World Cup ranking and thus a first for the 32-years-old US-boy. “It’s the first time that I have the Yellow Bib. I hope that I keep it longer than just one night. I definitely will sleep in it.”
1-2 punch for Canada’s ladies
On the ladies side, the decision was a closer one compared to the men’s final. In the night finals held under floodlights the top two qualifiers Dominique Maltais and Maelle Ricker were heads-up from the start on all the way down to the finish, including some critical situations. The tightest one almost took both riders out. “Maelle and I were going for the same line. So we had to have some contacts,” Maltais, who not only came off victorious out of the first bank but also kept the small lead on the 2010 Olympic Champion until the finish line, said.
“I deserved this win. It’s been a while that I was on top of a World Cup podium (Furano 2006),” the 2006 Olympic Bronze medallist said relieved. The 30-years-old fire worker from Quebec also added: “I was riding confident and strong the whole day. It was a perfect day and a perfect start into the new season.”