Moioli and Vaultier victorious in La Molina SBX
Michela Moioli (ITA) and Pierre Vaultier (FRA) have prevailed in the 2016-17 season's penultimate snowboard cross World Cup event which was staged in foggy conditions in La Molina, Spain today.
Moioli, fresh off a first and sixth place finish earned at the last World Cup stop in Germany underlined her current form by keeping her rivals in a thrilling women's finals at bay.
“The final was pretty difficult. We were pretty close together in the first bank, I gave my best to keep the lead I had gained in that turn. Now I'm happy about the win. That was a good confident boost for the world championships,” Moioli stated.
The 21-year-old from Alzano Lombardo had crossed the finish line first ahead of Eva Samkova (CZE) who therefore took over the World Cup lead with a total of 4,370 points from former top rider Belle Brockhoff (AUS; 4,060) who lost some precious ground today finishing in seventh position.
“It feels good to be first in the World Cup ranking after finishing second last season. But it's still super close, and it will be a tough fight in Veysonnaz,” explained Samkova.
Chloe Trespeuch (FRA) rounded out the podium in third with 2015 La Molina winner Charlotte Bankes (FRA) placing fourth.
The top-3 men of the La Molina WC
Over in the men's event which featured a lot of passing manoeuvres, tight battles from start to finish and several photo finish decisions, it was Olympic champion Pierre Vautier earning his career's 19th win ahead of Austria's Lukas Pachner who therefore wrote his history.
The 25-year-old became the first ever athlete from Vienna to podium in an individual World Cup competition.
Nick Baumgartner (USA) finished in third position while Omar Visintin (ITA) came in fourth after being the last to be back on track after Pachner, Baumgartner and the South Tyrolean had crashed down in the first left berm of the course therefore paving the way to an easy win for Vaultier.
Baumgartner was the first to go down and recapped the situation like this:
“I knew that it would be a battle going on, especially as I'm not known for my starts. So I knew I would have to pull something out. So I went to the inside to make something happen, and that turn just deteriorated. There was a big hole on the inside, and unfortunately I went down.
And then I saw the guys go down next to me, and they got tangled up but got up fast again. So I was just doing everything I can to get on that podium.”
Nevertheless, the race for the win was already decided.
“I didn't expect to win here. The start of the season was complicated but then I figured out to be back on the podium in the last races. This win prior to the world champs is great. I'm feeling really good”, Vaultier said.
“I had a good start in the finals, and then I noticed that everybody was falling behind of me. But I tried to stay focus for the rest of the run,” he added.
Although he didn't podium today, Visintin had enough reasons to be OK with the result as he took back the lead from Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) who had missed today's knock out finals placing only 53rd in yesterday's time trials.
Ever since the season's second race the lead has changed back and forth between both riders with Visintin now leading the World Cup ranking with 3,470 points ahead of Vaultier (3,450) and Haemmerle (3,114.60) – with only one last race to come.
However, before it's time for the showdown in Veysonnaz (SUI) from March 24 to 26, when an individual as well as team snowboard cross race will be staged, it's time to go for Gold, Silver and Bronze at the 12th FIS Snowboard World Championships which are slated to take place from March 7 to 19 in Sierra Nevada (ESP).
The snowboard cross is scheduled for March 11 and 12 with the first ever world championships team SBX event following on March 13.
Full results of this season's penultimate snowboard cross World Cup staged in La Molina today can be viewed online.