Samkova and Olyunin lead the way in Montafon SBX qualifiers
Montafon, AUT - Qualifications ahead of the 2016/17 snowboard cross World Cup season-opener went down on a brilliantly sunny afternoon in Montafon (AUT) on Thursday, with Sochi 2014 Olympic champion Eva Samkova (CZE) and Nikolay Olyunin (RUS) starting the new season off on the right foot with top times the ladies’ and men’s qualifiers, respectively.
Samkova’s qualifying run was a statement performance that should have her competitors deeply concerned, as the Czech’s time of 1:00.14 was more than 1.5 seconds better than second-place Belle Brockhoff’s (AUS) time of 1:01.77.
Third in ladies’ qualifications went to Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA) who finished just .02 back of Brockhoff with a time of 1:01.79.
Over on the men’s side Olyunin turned some heads with his top qualifying run, as the 25 year old was the only rider able to break the 57-second mark, clocking a time of 56.94. Following up Olyunin was Jarryd Hughes (AUS) with a time of 57.05, while 2015/16 men’s SBX crystal globe winner Pierre Vaultier rounded out the qualification top three with a time of 57.29.
While the SBX World Cup shares the stage with the ski cross World Cup in Montafon this weekend, in its design the cross course here in Austria leans slightly more to the snowboard side of things than to the ski, with two extended roller sections - one near the start and one near the bottom - and four big banks spaced out along the course’s length.
Speeds are high through the tricky finish section, and with sunny and shady patches scattered throughout the course its going to take full concentration from top to bottom for the likes of Samkova and Olyunin to take thei advantage from qualifying through to a victory on Friday.
Finals on Friday in Montafon get underway at 14:00 CET, with the awards ceremony going down that evening at the base of the resort during the first night of Montafon’s famed party weekend built around the World Cup. Then, with ski cross finals taking over the competition schedule on Saturday, the boarders will be back on hill come Sunday for the always exciting team SBX competition.