Olympic champions post best times
2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medallists Eva Samkova (CZE) and Pierre Vaultier (FRA) are looking strong and confident to earn their career's first SBX world championships medals at the Sierra Nevada 2017 FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships.
Both athletes had the strongest legs on the technical course built by David Ny, Alberto Schiavon and a local shaper crew which had put together a demanding track asking for a lot of staying power, a smart line choice and a mindset 100 % focused on the riding.
With one feature leading straight into the next one, the course simply didn't allow for any lack of attention as misjudging could easily lead to being spat out of the course before even knowing it as two-time world champion Alex Pullin (AUS) had named it in an interview on the eve of the qualifiers.
In fact, several snowboarders had to learn it the hard way whilst going for a spot in the finals which will feature the top-24 women and top-48 men on Sunday at 12 PM CET.
But before it was time for the time trials today, mother nature had caused some troubles over night.
After heavy gusts of wind had destroyed the whole construction at the top of the course, the local crew had to re-built the start again. But with the workers being fully committed to bringing all things back in place in time, things finally kicked off with the men's qualifiers under a blue bird sky.
And Pierre Vaultier, who didn't have a good start to the season but was able to build up quite some momentum in the recent World Cup races, lived up to the expectations clocking in an incredible time of 1:09.15 on the 1,117 metres long course.
The father of one therefore was more than one second faster than the rest of the field – well, with one exception.
Local favourite Lucas Eguibar (ESP), who was sidelined from action at his home soil World Cup event in La Molina last weekend due to an injury, came close with a 1:09.36.
The rest of the men's field, at least the top-13, posted times ranging from 1:10.55 to 1:11.05 – a time difference which promises some exciting heats of six for next Sunday.
Over in the women's event, things were looking quite similar, however, with the top four ladies being even more close together.
Samkova, like Vaultier still having a world champs medal on her bucket list, blasted down the course in a superb time of 1:14.61, closely followed by US superstar Lindsey Jacobellis (1:14.86).
The four-time world champion has been improving her start game over the past weeks, a fact which played in her hands on a start section which might be the most challenging of the season so far now sniffing the chance to becoming the second snowboarder in history with five world championships titles to her belt.
By now, Karine Ruby (FRA) is still the most decorated snowboarder at world championships with six gold medals.
However, Michela Moioli (ITA) and Faye Gulini (USA), could still straddle in between as both were timed with a 1:15.25 and therefore the only two more girls to stay below the 1:16 minutes mark therefore becoming strong contenders for the podium, too.
Nevertheless, Jacobellis has won every world championships SBX event she has attended – another mouth-watering ingredient for an action-packed final in two days.