Snowboard Cross to kick off things tomorrow
With less than 24h to go to the qualifiers of the first snowboard event of the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships, it's time to take a look on the field of riders entering the SBX competition and check who are the ones to watch out for.
Looking back to 2003, there are only TWO male riders left who were part of the last Snowboard Cross World Championships race at Kreischberg. And other than expected it's two riders who are still quite young and not of the so-called older generation.
Rok Rogelj (SLO), who finished in 54th position twelve years ago, and Alex Pullin (AUS), who finished in 49th position, probably won't be able to capitalize on the their Kreischberg course experience though. However, the latter of the two, is definitely one of the guys to watch out for in the Snowboard Cross event.
The reigning and two-time World Champion from down under who is known for his strong qualifier riding traveled to Austria aiming for an ambitious goal: the title-three-peat!
Ever since the first SBX World Championships event in Lienz, Austria 1996, no rider was able to win three times in a row. However, there have been a two more riders to successfully defend their titles: Karine Ruby (FRA, 1996 and 1997 as well as 2001 and 2003) and Lindsey Jacobellis (USA, 2005 and 2007).
But it's hard to predict if 'Chumpy' has the momentum to lock in the third consecutive WCS title, as there has been no World Cup event staged prior to the World Champs due to the weather situation in Europe.
When the Montafon season's opener got cancelled due to the lack of snow, athletes where happy to at least compete in one Europa Cup on the Pitztal glacier beginning of last December, where Pullin finished in third behind of Germany's Konstantin Schad and Hagen Kearney (USA).
With almost no real comparison prior to the major event, the focus will be on the big names of the scene who might be able to benefit on their experience on the technically demanding and very fast course built by Anders Forsell (SWE) and Nick Roma (USA).
That said, riders to watch out for are for sure Olympic Champion Pierre Vaultier (FRA), World Cup title defender Omar Visintin (ITA), former World Champion Markus Schairer (AUT) as well as Olympic medallists Nikolay Olyunin (RUS) and Alex Deibold (USA).
In the women's competition, the most dominating female snowboard cross athletes of last season Olympic Gold and Silver medallists Eva Samkova (CZE) and Dominique Maltais (CAN) are ready to follow up 2013 Champion Maelle Ricker (CAN), who is not at site to defend her title due to knee problems.
In addition, three-time World Champion Lindsey Jacobellis (USA) wouldn't mind to add another Gold to her belt. So far, the US team veteran has won the title in every World Championships event she competed in (2005, 2007 and 2011).
Other racers to have on the list who are keen to land on the podium are Alexandra Jekova (BUL), Michela Moioli (ITA) as well as Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA) and Olympic Bronze medallist Chloe Trespeuch (FRA).