Olafsen and Vaultier victorious in season’s last snowboard cross
Helene Olafsen (NOR) and Pierre Vaultier (FRA) have won the last snowboard cross race of the 2010 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup. In La Molina, Spain, the reigning World Champion successfully competed against Simona Meiler (SUI), Olympic Champion Maelle Ricker (CAN) and Alexandra Jekova (BUL) in the ladies' final. On the men's side of things, Pierre Vaultier celebrated his season's fifth victory on the 2011 FIS Snowboard World Championships slope ahead of Alex Pullin (AUS), Pat Holland from the USA and Alberto Schiavon (ITA). The French had secured his second World Cup title - just like Maelle Ricker on the ladies' side - before the last race of this winter already.
But Canada's hopeful now has a slight chance of also clinching the Overall World Cup. The 31-years-old has earned a total of 5,000 points and sits in first of the ranking with a lead of 200 points over Nicolien Sauerbreij (NED), who has the chance to go one better next Sunday in the very last parallel giant slalom. The Dutch rider has to finish at least 12th in order to repeat her 2008 Overall World Cup win.
According to the tiny lead Maelle Ricker was indeed pleased with today's race but not with the 600 points she collected for the third rank. "I for sure was hoping for a little bit more than that. It's nice to be on the podium but now it will be a tight thing. I will be around and watch on Sunday," the 2010 Olympic Champion said. However, the Squamish, B.C., resident missed the chance to better her position in the race for the big Crystal Globe.
Although "mighty mouse" got the hole shot and was in the lead all the way of the first half of the ladies' final, Ricker made a decisive mistake. "I lost a lot of speed. Helene (Olafsen) was so fast and passed me. It was a course where you cannot make any mistakes." In the end, her misfortune weight even more as also Simona Meiler was able to pass the three-time Olympian (1998, 2006 and 2010).
Due to the successful passing manoeuvre Helene Olafsen was all smiles in the finish area; especially as the two top athletes had also battled it out in their quarter and semi finals before. Time enough for the "Viking" to analyse her rival: "I knew that I was able to gain more speed before the jump in the middle section and I took advantage of it," the 20-years-old 2009 World Champion said. "It's nice to be on the podium. I'm very tired. The Olympics and a long season were very exhausting. This is for sure a perfect ending of the season," Olafsen added.
Pierre Vaultier also wraps up season perfectly
Just like Olafsen on the ladies' side, Pierre Vaultier was able to celebrate a perfect last race of the season. Five victories, one runner-up and one 16th rank finally summed up in his second World Cup title after 2008 and also caused a noticeable relief after a disappointing race at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. "It's a nice redemption and very important for my confidence. It was a great season and I hope that I will be able to tie up to it next year," the 22-years-old said.
After his career's tenth victory, Vaultier also went an extra mile when posting a small declaration of war. "I for sure will try to keep hold on my title. It's one of my goals as well as doing well here at the next World Championships. I want to win as many races as possible." The men's Snowboard Cross World Cup top-3 were rounded out by Alex Pullin who just edged off Graham Watanabe (USA) to third due to today's runner-up finish. In the ladies' final World Cup ranking Helene Olafsen finished as second while Dominique Maltais closed the season as third.
Tomorrow will bring the last halfpipe contest of the 2010 LG Snowboard FIS World Cup.