Lindsey Jacobellis and Alex Pullin victorious in season’s second to last snowboard cross
Lindsey Jacobellis (USA) and Alex Pullin (AUS) have won the second to last snowboard cross race of the 2010 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. In the ladies' final, the fifth ranked rider of the 2010 Olympics edged off Vancouver Gold medallist Maelle Ricker (CAN) and her team mate Dominique Maltais to the second and third rank respectively. Reigning World Champion Helene Olafsen (NOR) came in fourth.
On the men's side of things, an Aussie claimed victory for the second time in the snowboard cross World Cup history. While racing to his first ever triumph, Alex Pullin successfully competed against Austria's Marion Fuchs and Mateusz Ligocki (POL) on the tough course in Valmalenco which was peppered with many big jumps and several technical features. Italy's Alberto Schiavon had to settle for fourth at his home turf contest.
It was a bitter pill for the experienced rider from Italy as the men's finals was a very close decision. After several passing manoeuvres behind of Alex Pullin, who got the hole shot, the Australian, Fuchs and Schiavon came right behind of each other out of the last turn and headed for the final jump.
While everyone was fighting for his position, all of the sudden, there was no space left anymore: Schiavon and Fuchs crashed - the Italian unfortunately went over the b-netting and thus out of the top-3.
"We were three guys all within half a metre," commented Salzburg country side resident Mario Fuchs. "There was nothing we could have done to avoid this. We both flew off - with the better ending for me. I landed on the slope and was able to bring home my first ever runner-up finish. That was missing in my collection. It's a satisfaction after the disappointing Olympics," the 33-years-old added.
Redemption for Pullin
It was a similar payback-situation for Pullin who had to burry all of his Olympic hopes at the last Winter Games when the best qualifier of Vancouver crashed down in the leading position of his eighth finals. "It was a long way from Vancouver for me. The whole last month I was thinking ‘I have to win this'. It's redemption."
The rider from down under thus seemed to give everything in order to live down the Vancouver experience. Pullin won the start in every heat and crossed the finish line every time first - except of his eighth final. "I'm so happy about my current riding and I hope that I can take the momentum to the next years," the 22-years-old, who also entertains the snowboard cross circuit with some guitar solos from time to time, said.
World Cup preliminary on the ladies side
On the ladies' side of things, the top-4 of today also offered some enthralling head-to-head-fights in the final which in the end Lindsey Jacobellis clinched. In the bank-to-bank combination of the second to last section, the US girl passed Ricker thus bringing home her career's 21st World Cup victory. "I knew that I couldn't get her (Maelle Ricker) at the start," she explained. "So, I used the semi finals in order to analyse her and find out where I could get her. It was a close course with not much room left but I made it."
True to the motto "I rather crash and go for it but I tried it" the 2006 Olympic runner-up passed her rival and kept it all together. According to this, the 24-years-old was all smiles: "I come from a very competitive family. So, every competition I'm in I want to win. I'm happy that I made it."
Although she missed the chance to her season's fourth win, Maelle Ricker was also very pleased with the result. "I enjoyed the race and the good conditions," she said. "I'm just happy that I was finally back on the board after almost one month of no riding." Canada's reigning Olympic champion also analysed that "I got off-rhythm in the roller section which you shouldn't in a heat like this."
Due to her runner-up finish it also seems that Ricker will bring home the Crystal Globe. The 31-years-old currently sits in first with 4,760 points and a massive lead over second ranked Helene Olafsen (3,550). So, despite the mandatory cut-of result after seven races and with a shape like this, the Squamish, B.C., resident should also earn the SBX World Cup title - with only one last race to come next week in La Molina (ESP). On the men's side, Pierre Vaultier (FRA), who finished 16th in Valmalenco, already had secured the Globe prior today's race.
Tomorrow, the LG Snowboard FIS World Cup continues with a parallel giant slalom - also in Valmalenco, Italy.