Raceboarders take over centre stage in Lachtal
The second half of snowboarding events at the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships at Kreischberg will kick off in the Lachtal valley which is located some 40 car minutes away from the world championships' main venue.
However, as Lachtal will host both parallel events, those event where the hosting nation pins its biggest hopes on winning medals, the tribune is reported to have been sold out a few days ago already.
With the slope being in perfect condition all is set for some thrilling head-to-head racing which is expected to be as exciting as it gets as the parallel slalom on Thursday as well as the parallel giant slalom on Friday will be staged in the single-run format which leaves literally no room for mistakes.
There is one rider who has been underlining this season already that he deals with this tough format the best.
2014 two-time Olympic medallist Zan Kosir (SLO) kept the momentum from Sochi were he won Bronze (PGS) and Silver (PSL) making it to every single big final in this season three alpine snowboarding events.
And looking back on his impressive performance in Carezza, Italy, Montafon and Bad Gastein, Austria, the Slovenian train keeps on picking up speed having locked in an impressive streak of 2-2-1 World Cup finishes.
At this point, it looks like the only thing that will keep the 30-year-old from bringing home at least a podium finish and his first ever WCS medal at his fifth world championships is Kosir himself.
But although the overall world cup leader from Trzic stands out this season so far, there are a few more men who have a justifiable claim on the title or a medal.
Roland Fischnaller (ITA) won the first two events of the world cup tour edging off Kosir to the runner-up position and seems to have found his rhythm again after a disappointing 2014 season; a rhythm which earned him a Silver and Bronze medal at the last World Championships in Stoneham, Canada back in 2013.
Another rider who has the mentality to deal best with pressure at major events is Benjamin Karl.
The local hero is the hosting nation's biggest hope for another medal. No wonder as ever since Gangwon, Korea 2009 he placed at least once on the podium at WCS or Olympic Winter Games.
The 2013 PGS world title winner is not only up for a successful title defence but also ready for his fifth World Championships title, a feat, which only Jasey Jay Anderson of Canada was able to pull off so far.
However, it will be interesting how Karl will handle his ongoing back problems. At least, he finally knows where they come from. The 29-year-old from Wilhelmsburg was diagnosed with a herniated disc a few days ago.
In the women's competition, the field is as deep and strong as never before at world championships with no lady standing out in this still very young season.
However, Ester Ledecka comes into the world championships as hottest snowboarder on the ladies' circuit having won the last World Cup event in Bad Gastein after coming back from a concussion suffered in a pre-season training run which sidelined her from the first two races of the international contest series.
2014 Olympic PGS Champion Patrizia Kummer is another carving specialist to look out for.
The most dominating rider of the last season who took home all three crystal globes is only missing the world title in her so far impressive career and wouldn't mind taking that one in the Lachtal valley whilst trying to keep the momentum from her second place finish in Bad Gastein.
But Marion Kreiner (AUT), a true local from Styria living in Graz, is also looking strong. The early season overall and pgs yellow bib-holder won the season's opener and added two more top-10 finishes to her belt.
In addition, 2013 two-time Bronze medallist Amelie Kober (GER) is always strong at top events; so is reigning world champion Ekaterina Tudegesheva (RUS).
Thursday, Jan 22: 9 AM CET PSL qualifiers ladies & men
1 PM CET PSL finals ladies & men (single run)
Friday, Jan 23: 9 AM CET PGS qualifiers ladies & men
1:30 PM CET PGS finals ladies and men (single-run)