Pullin and Bankes top qualifiers in La Molina
In today's time trials for the penultimate snowboard cross World Cup race of the season, Alex Pullin (AUS) and Charlotte Bankes (FRA) impressively underlined that both do like the La Molina course.
Pullin, who had earned his career's first of two world championships titles on the same slope six years ago and also had finished in third position two seasons ago, when the racers last met in the Pyrenean resort, dominated the men's field in 51.67 seconds.
Austrian racers Markus Schairer and Lukas Pachner followed in second and third with a respective 51.97 and 52.07.
However, another strong Austrian, World Cup leader Alessandro Haemmerle, didn't manage to qualify after he made a mistake in a roller section.
As a result, he is now forced to the spectator role when Omar Visintin, his main rival in the battle for the World Cup title, prepares for the next change of the lead in the World Cup ranking.
Ever since the second race of the season, the lead has changed between both, Haemmerle and Visintin, after every single World Cup boarder cross.
However, the Italian racer didn't look as strong as in the past qualifiers only sneaking in the finals of the top 32 as 26th now relying on his strong head-to-head skills when the heats of 4 get underway tomorrow at 11:30 AM CET.
Over in the women's event, which kicked off right after the men's had finished their qualifiers, it was Charlotte Bankes, the 2015 winner, to post the best time of 52.35, an impressive time, which would have earned her a spot in the men's finals, too.
Italy's Michela Moioli was also looking good with a 52.48 with third fastest women Faye Gulini (USA) already a bit behind clocking in a 53.14.
With Raffaella Brutto (ITA; 53.30) coming in fourth, the La Molina WC saw the top racers of the season missing the top-4 for the first time together.
Eva Samkova, currently sitting in second of the World Cup ranking, was the fifth fastest girl (53.31) while World Cup leader Belle Brockhoff needed the second run of the time trials to make it to the finals of the top 16 women in 12th position (54.13).
Tomorrow's finals will be broadcasted live on Eurosport Asia, Eurosportplayer.com, SFR Sport 3, Ziggo Sport Extra 1, Teledelporte and Nbcsports.com.