Samkova and Eguibar top Sunny Valley qualifiers
2014 Olympic champion Eva Samkova (CZE) and Lucas Eguibar (SPA) posted the fastest times in today's qualifiers for the 2015-16 season's fourth snowboard cross World Cup which is staged in Sunny Valley, Russia this weekend.
It was all about the seeding on the crazy fast, about 1,100 metres long course built by Todd Main today as the field wasn't as big as usually on the World Cup tour.
With almost the whole US team skipping the stop in the Ural Mountains and the finals set for heats of six, all riders at site were sure to make it to the finals.
However, now everybody knows whom to race against in tomorrow's showdown slated for 12 PM local time (watch the action live on ORF Sport+, MCS France, Eurosport Asia, Sport1 and on the NBC Sports live stream).
Nevertheless, riders went for it with Samkova locking in a 1:10.69 in the women's time trials.
Currently sitting in fourth position of the World Cup ranking, the 22-year-old from Vrchiabi is looking good to bring home her fifth career World Cup victory – if she can repeat her today's performance.
On the long and demanding course, Samkova was the only girl to stay under 1:11 minutes, more than one second faster than her hardest pursuers. Second fastest Belle Brockhoff (AUS) didn't come even close being more than one second back of her (1:11.91).
Michela Moioli (ITA, 1:12.12) and Kristina Paul (POL, 1:12.25) who had descended on Mother Russia with the confidence of finishing fifth at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway followed in a respective third and fourth rank opening the door for the Italian racer to set current World Cup leader Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA) under pressure.
As Moioli is 700 points away from the defending champion from France, chances seem to be good for her to close the gap if Moenne Loccoz who struggled today (1:13.84) doesn't get into the right rhythm for the Sunny Valle course.
Just like in the women's event, also the fastest man raced in a league of his own.
Lucas Eguibar, the defending World Cup champion, posted a 1:07.34 and was therefore .50 seconds faster than Pierre Vaultier (FRA, 1:07.84) who seems to look strong enough to give current World Cup leader Nikolay Olyunin some hard times tomorrow.
The local hero however underlined his current strength with the fourth fastest time 1:08.39, being just nine hundredths behind of 2016 X Games gold medallist Jarryd Hughes (1:08.30).