Bansko to debut as World Cup host
Over the next couple of days, Bansko is set to celebrate its debut as a World Cup host organising races for both, the alpine snowboard World Cup tour as well as the snowboard cross World Cup series.
Known as one of the biggest resorts of the country, Bansko will become the second venue in Bulgaria to host a snowboard World Cup since Sofia 2007 (Big Air).
While the carving specialists will compete in two parallel giant slaloms slated to take place on February 3 and 5 on the Alberto Tomba slope, the 2016-17 season's sole sprint snowboard cross will be staged on February 4 with the qualifiers scheduled for February 2.
It's the first time in almost four years that raceboarders as well as boarder cross riders come together for World Cup events.
Back in March 2013, 2017 world championships host in waiting Sierra Nevada (ESP) did organise the World Cup finals as part of their road to this season's highlight – with the pgs been cancelled due to the snow conditions back in the days though.
Now, a few more thousand kilometres to the east, it's time to celebrate the good old times when riders of all kinds did compete on the same slopes. And things couldn't be more exciting.
In the snowboard cross, the sole sprint event of the season won't really ask for strong legs and stamina but for a good start in order to get on the best line first.
But as the full set of World Cup points will be rewarded to the best athletes, there is some serious business to expect in the Pirin Mountains.
Especially as last's year's great debut of the sprint sbx format at Feldberg (GER) provided some head-to-head duels in the knock out heats – from start all the way down to the finish.
However, as the start will be key to success, Hagen Kearney (USA), who locked in his career's first at the World Cup opener in Montafon earlier this season thanks to an outstanding reaction time in the start gate, might be able to catch up with Omar Visintin (ITA) in the race for the Crystal Globe again.
Right now, the South Tyrolean World Cup leader has 1,600 points with Kearney sitting in second position with 1,290 points.
In the women's event, the best two ladies at the start, Eva Samkova (CZE, 1,450) and Belle Brockhoff (AUS, 1,400) are the leading duo with Chloe Trespeuch (FRA, 1,300), Lindsey Jacobellis (USA, 1,200) and Michela Moioli (ITA, 1,200) breathing down their necks.
But with four-time world champion Jacobellis being not the best starter in the last races, chances are high that the star of the scene might lose some contact to the leading quartet.
Here is a little VLOG course preview by X Games gold medallist Jarryd Hughes (AUS):