Moioli clinches women's sbx title in a heartbeat finale
Belle Brockhoff and Alex Pullin have secured a double win for the Australian team at the snowboard cross World Cup finals staged at Baqueira Beret, Spain today while Michela Moioli (ITA) brought home a tiny lead of 40 points to claim her first career World Cup title after a total of eight races held in the 2015-16 season.
With the world's best athletes at site, a perfectly shaped course on hand and the World Cup standings promising a tight battle for the title, it all came down to the very last heat of the women's event to decide about the title – just like it should be – with the so far World Cup leading rider from Italy being forced to sit and wait in the finish area whilst watching a heartbeat final run deciding about her being hot or not.
After Michela Moioli had been eliminated in the semi finals, the 21-year-old young gun did come back seethed with anger the best possible way by winning the small final, leaving her strongest pursuer in the race for the Crystal Globe Eva Samkova set to win the World Cup host debut of Baqueira Beret in order to edge off the Italian athlete from the top spot of the rankings.
At first, it seemed that the pressure would be too high for the 2014 Olympic champion who came out late out off the start gate and got stuck in traffic with French riders Nelly Moenne Loccoz and Chloe Trespeuch right in front of her.
But the more the Czech superstar was able to demonstrate her drafting skills, the more Samkova was able to catch up with her rivals.
In the end, the course was just some metres too short for Samkova as Belle Brockhoff (AUS) was able to celebrated a wire to wire winning by a nose ahead of Samkova and Trespeuch to claim her career's first World Cup win.
The rider from down under therefore refused Samkova's first career title who finished off the season with 5.060 points and only 40 points behind of Moioli (5,100) who became the fourth ever woman to win a World Cup title for Italy and the first ever to do so in snowboard cross.
As expected after such a nailbiting season's finale, Michela Moioli felt more than just relieved when the title decision balanced in her favour:
“I never felt so good before. I'm very happy about the World Cup title win. I didn't do as good as I wanted today, so it got tight in the end but that's boardercross – and I won the title!”
Beaten runner-up Samkova took it on the chin already underlining that she will be back even stronger: “I'm ready for next season. I really want to win the World Cup title. That's the one thing I'm still missing, but I'm happy for Michela Moioli who was riding really good this season.”
In the men' event, Alex Pullin claimed his sixth career triumph on the World Cup tour with Kevin Hill (CAN) and local hero Lucas Eguibar (SPA) rounding out the podium as second and third, respectively.
“I loved the course that they built here. It's been a great race. Everyone did a fantastic job, and I think we really saw that in the final of the last four guys. It's been a great finish of the season to win here in Spain. I'm already looking forward to the next year,” said the 2011 and 2013 world champion from Australia.
Men's World Cup title winner Pierre Vaultier (FRA), who had to settle with fourth today, had secured his fourth career Crystal Globe already ahead of the World Cup tour's finale.
Full results can be viewed online.