Jacobellis/Gulini and Delerue/Vaultier win team SBX
The World Cup week in Telluride, USA, wrapped up today with the second ever Snowboard Cross team race in the history of the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. In the last event of an action-packed World Cup debut in Colorado in which two riders made up a team in order to race together, it was Lindsey Jacobellis and Faye Gulini (both USA) on the ladies side and Xavier Delerue and Pierre Vaultier (both FRA) on the men's side who came out victorious on the 1.020 metres long course built on Misty Maiden slope. The two US girls just edged Canada's Maelle Ricker and Dominique Maltais in a photo finish to the runner-up spot. Switzerland's Simona Meiler and Tanja Frieden came in third. On the men's side, USA's very own Nick Baumgartner and Nate Holland as well as Canada's Mike Robertson and Drew Neilson rounded out the podium as second and third respectively.
Head-to-head-duel on ladies' side
After some nice Snowboard Cross racing it was the ladies' final which simply had it all also showing why both, riders and spectators, are into team events like this. After Lindsey Jacobellis, who had been rider number one for the US team, had crossed the finish line with a lead of approximately 20 metres ahead of Maelle Ricker, Simona Meiler and Mellie Francon (SUI), Faye Gulini had to bring this lead into the finish being send on the slope as first out of four competitors. But the 17-years-old from Salt Lake City slowly lost her lead over the first half of the course, so Dominique Maltais had been able to catch up trying to keep the pressure up on Gulini.
"I felt her breath down my neck and also noticed that she (Dominique Maltais) screamed something but I didn't understand what. And she barely passed me" Gulini said after a tight race finish where she just saved a lead of half a board length after having lost metre after metre before. Thus, she also secured the second SBX team race victory for an US ladies' team after Lake Placid 2007.
No wonder, that on the other side Dominique Maltais was a little bit disappointed of missing the big shot so close. If the course would have been just a few metres longer, it would have been more than likely that the 2006 Olympic Bronze medallist would have passed her opponent due to the higher final speed. "It's hard to lose that close twice in two days. But I made a little mistake today by not attacking in the fourth turn. Thereafter I tried and tried but it didn't work out in the end." However, the 28-years-old from Quebec City also added that "it's always fun to race together with Maelle (Ricker) in a team."
Xavier Delerue opens the door to victory on the men's side
Also on the men's side, the final heat was a thrilling and action-packed one, especially as the first four riders showcased what Snowboard Cross is all about: close duels man by man including several passing manoeuvres. But it was the grudge match between Nick Baumgartner and Xavier Delerue which was the best advertise for the sport. "It went back and for. Once I passed him and then he came back in front" said Xavier Delerue. "It was a real battle. We met, we touched and we almost crashed. It was lots of fun" the 2007 SBX World Champion added.
In the end, the French rider had a small lead by crossing the finish line first thus enabling his team mate Pierre Vaultier to head for the track as first; a final and decisive advantage which yesterday's winner just brought home. "I was fortunate to enter the course ahead of Nate Holland" Vaultier said who also found the right words to describe the last days in Telluride: "It's been an amazing race week!"
Snowboard Cross team racing:
Four teams of two (start and second racer) meet up in head-to-head-duels. After the first team rider crosses the finish line, the start gate opens for his mate.