Samkova and Haemmerle triumph in La Molina SBX WC
Eva Samkova (CZE) and Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) have topped the respective ladies' and men's field in the tenth out of twelve SBX World Cup stops of the 2017-18 season which took place in La Molina, Spain today.
Like yesterday's qualifiers also the finals were plagued by some gusty winds which in the end did't really affect the riding too much as the course built on the Alabaus slope didn't feature big jumps but asked for some superb pump track-like riding technique.
However, it wasn't the roller sections which got crucial today but the transitions from one turn into the next where athletes struggled the most to keep a good line while fighting for position in the heats of four with both big finals being the best example.
In the women's race, 2018 Olympic bronze medallist Eva Samkova and Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA) capitalised on their great start skills going for the hole shot with the Czech racer coming out first of turn one.
Both riders quickly were able to break away a bit from Charlotte Bankes (FRA) and Raffaella Brutto (ITA) who fought head to head down the course until both collided in the fourth turn after Bankes couldn't hold the pressure on her heel edge and slipped away on the inside taking out Brutto as well.
But as the top qualifier from France got back on her feet first again, she was able to round out the podium in third behind of Samkova and Moenne Loccoz.
“I was a bit surprised coming out of the first berm in first. I was always thinking that they would get me. So, I was pushing it hard, and I made it. I'm really glad to come out victorious here,” said Samkova who has therefore placed first or second in all three World Cup races she competed in after coming back from her shoulder injury suffered during the Val Thorens event last December.
In the men's final, Haemmerle led a safe Austrian double victory with Hanno Douschan taking second securing his career's first podium after also two riders went down battling for third.
“The course featured a lot of rollers today which definitely played in my hands. I was able to build up and maintain quite some good speed.
After the disappointing Olympics with my seventh rank finish and the bad injury of Markus Schairer this double win today is very important for us as a team. Standing on the podium together with your teammate makes everything so much better,” explained Haemmerle.
And although only closely beaten on the line, his fellow countryman Douschan was extremely happy with the result, too: “I'm super happy about my first podium result. Maybe I could have done better if none of the others would have raced on my board in turn three but I'm not here to complain. I just want to enjoy the moment.”
In fact, it was Perathoner who got Douschan a bit out of balance which costs the 26-year-old a possible surprising first.
Getting clinched entering the second turn, Emanuel Perathoner (ITA) raced on the tail of Douschan and lost his balanced right in front of Germany's Paul Berg who had no chance to pass the South Tyrolean and ran right into him.
As Perathoner managed to get back on track quicker than his rival from Germany, it was the 31-year-old from Bozen jumping on the podium as third.
World Cup leaders Michela Moioli (ITA; 6,810) and Pierre Vaultier (FRA; 6,520) both got eliminated in the respective quarter and semi finals but are still comfortably sitting on top of the rankings with only two more races to come.
The SBX World Cup tour will continue next weekend with an in-city race staged in Moscow on 18 March 2018.