Raceboarders return to South Korea for Olympic test event
It's been five years since the last stop of the alpine snowboard World Cup tour in South Korea. Now, with the 2018 Olympic Winter Games around the corner, it's time again for the carving specialists to compete in head-to-head duels on the Korean peninsula.
Bokwang Phoenix Park, host of the PyeongChang snowboard events, will welcome the world's best raceboarders for a parallel giant slalom on February 12, 2017.
Unlike the World Cup and World Championships, the official Olympic test event will be staged in the re-run format – just like at the Olympics – which means racers have to master the course strength-sapping ten times (two qualifier runs, eight runs in the knock out rounds) to make it to the podium.
However, riders are well-prepared as 2014 Olympic psl gold medallist Julia Dujmovits explains on behalf of the field: “That's why I train so much over summer, to be able to compete ten times.”
However, as stamina could make the difference, it will definitely add some more spice to the race for the Crystal globe.
For the ladies, it's a battle of four for the title right now, with Bansko winners Alena Zavarzina (RUS, 2,500) and Patrizia Kummer (SUI; 2,300) sitting in a respective first and second position.
However, Austrian athletes Ina Meschik (2,120) and Dujmovits (2,040), whose form curve is also pointing upwards, are close behind.
Over on the men's side, Radoslav Yankov (BUL) has descended on Bokwang with a first and second rank finish of his home soil races in Bansko therefore being the one to beat on the 2018 Olympic slope; especially as the World Cup leader (3,200) has a comfortably lead over his pursuers.
But if there is one rider who can handle the South Korean slopes and snow it's Benjamin Karl. The Austrian top gun has celebrated four world championships titles in his career so far, with one gold earned in Gangwon, Korea back in 2009.
In addition, the two-time Olympic medallist is back to old strength in the parallel giant slalom after winning the World Cup opener in Italy and placing third in Bulgaria last weekend. He therefore sits in second of the pgs ranking with 2,460 points.
With Nevin Galmarini (SUI; 2,108.50) and Sylvain Dufour (FRA; 1.580) two riders from the older generation are also mixing it at the top while Sang-ho Lee (KOR) is actually racing the season of his life.
The 2015 pgs junior world champion is currently ranked fifth of the pgs World Cup standings (1,560) and therefore the best ranked rider from South Korea of all times.
And with the home soil race around the corner, and one fourth place and two fifth place finishes in the bag this season already, the 21-year-old local favourite will definitely aim for his career's first podium result.
For a more detailed information on the time schedule in Bokwang please click here.