Field's top starters post best times in Bansko sbx qualifiers
Eva Samkova (CZE) and Hagen Kearney (USA), both know for their excellent skills to pull out of the start gate, have topped the respective women's and men's time trials of this season's third snowboard cross World Cup currently staged in Bansko, Bulgaria.
Facing pretty warm temperatures in the Pirin Mountains, Samkova, the current World Cup leader, underlined her strength in a time of 21.23 seconds on the sole sprint course of the tour.
“Today was perfect. The course is nice, especially the two last jumps are well-built. It's just a proper sprint course were you cannot over shoot any feature. It's great for the people watching. They can see everything from top to bottom – although one ore two turns would have been nice,” said Samkova who stills sees room to improve.
“I did quite well today, it was like in training. I'm pleased with the time but still have to work on one or two things.”
It's a plan she should stick to as the 2014 Olympic champion has some strong rivals to keep in mind with Belle Brockhoff (AUS; 21.27) and Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA; 21.30) also having shown their good mix of strong arms and superb reaction time.
Tight battle in men's event
In the men's qualifiers, things couldn't be any more exciting as top qualifier Hagen Kearney (19.45) and Olympic champion Pierre Vaultier (FRA; 19.46) were only separated by on hundredths of a second.
And with Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT; 19.58), two-time world champion Alex Pullin (AUS; 19.59) and Jonathan Cheever (USA; 19.68) all staying under a 19.70, things look promising for tons of photo finishes when riders blast down the 330 metres long course on Saturday.
Finals of the top-24 women and top-48 men are scheduled for 11:30 AM CET with ORF Sport +, SFR Sport 3, Ziggo Sport Select, Teledelporte and nbcsports.com broadcasting the knock out rounds live.