Moioli and Lueftner triumph in first Feldberg race
Michela Moioli (ITA) and Julian Lueftner (AUT) have claimed victory in the first of two SBX World Cup races staged at Seebuck/Feldberg, Germany today.
Like the years before, the stances in the finish area were once again filled with a few thousands watching the world's best riders compete in their penultimate form test before heading to South Korea next week.
And while some nations like the Czech Republic or the USA (with its Olympic roster) had skipped the double World Cup event in the Black Forrest, all other teams were up for some action packed racing on the 700 metres long course which followed last year's design with a monster drop at the start (also used at the PyeongChang 2018 event), a crucial first left turn which led to a step down and further on to a double right, into an uphill roller section before a final left send the heats on the home stretch to the finish right next to the Resi lift.
Like yesterday's windy and foggy qualifiers, it was once again Michela Moioli dealing best with the soft snow earning her career's eighth and season's third in dominant fashion.
The World Cup leader prevailed in all of her heats while also celebrating an easy wire-to-wire victory in the women's final.
“I feel very good, I really get along well with this course, and I'm currently just having the momentum. I don't know why but I hope to keep it for the next races,” she said.
Zoe Bergermann (CAN) came in second securing her career's first top-3 result on the tour, a podium which came out of the blue for her:
“I wanted this result in my soul. I'm really excited after I was struggling a lot after my injury last year. So, it feels really good to get my confidence back and a good result, especially before the Olympics.”
Julia Pereira de Sousa Malibeau (FRA) rounded out the ladies' podium as third with her teammate Charlotte Bankes being forced to settle for fourth.
Chloe Trespeuch, another strong rider from the French team, who was only 30 points behind of Moioli in the race for the World Cup title lost the contact to her Italian rival finishing sixth and a total of 5,000 points while Moioli has accumulated 5,630 points already due to a streak of six podium finishes in a row.
The men's competition featured a from zero to hero story with Lueftner springing a surprise.
Only two weeks after losing the internal duel with Hanno Douschan for the fourth Olympic team spot for the upcoming Olympics, the 25-year-old enjoyed the race of his life.
Moving up to his first big final after winning a photo finish decision against local favourite Konstantin Schad (GER) in his semi, he entered the final heat knowing that he had nothing to lose.
And when Pierre Vaultier, who did ride flawlessly in the heats before, made his first tiny mistake at the wu-tang right after the start, Lueftner was ready to capitalise from the reigning Olympic and World Champion flying a bit to far into the flat.
The 2014 Europa Cup Champion took over the lead and kept hold to it until the finish line.
“This win is unexpected and unfortunately two weeks too late. We are five strong men in our team, and I wasn't selected for Pyeongchang. But this win is exactly what I needed. I knew that I got it in me. Maybe it's because the qualifier pressure has gone. I was able to just go for it,” Lueftner summed up.
Vaultier, however, was still able to finish in second position therefore adding his fourth Feldberg podium in five races to his palmares therefore also extending his World Cup lead as both of his main rivals in the battle for the crystal globe missed out the semis.
Alex Pullin (AUS) and Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) ended on the respective ninth and tenth rank.
“The past has shown that I do good on this course although I don't really like it this time as we would have deserved harder snow. But we can't control the weather. It was a hard day but it turned out pretty good for me.
I mean, I don't like to count on other rider's misery. I'm trying to concentrate on myself, and I noticed that I wasn't on top of my game. But still second, so today helped in the race for the crystal globe,” analysed Vaultier.
His teammate Ken Vuagnoux (FRA) snatched his career's first podium as third edging off Canada's Kevin Hill to fourth.
The Snowboard Cross World Cup tour will continue tomorrow with the another race staged at Feldberg.
Qualifiers are slated for 9:00 CET with the finals scheduled for 12:00 CET. Live TV information can be checked here.