Showdown for women's sbx title at Baqueira Beret
The final event of the 2015-16 snowboard cross World Cup season is set to take place this coming weekend with Baqueira Beret, Spain celebrating an unexpected debut as a World Cup host out of the blue.
Five weeks ago, La Molina, Spain, host of the 2011 world champs, had to withdraw from the calendar due to the unseasonable snow conditions with the biggest ski resort in Spain taking over duty on short notice.
Now, with the world's best riders on hand, Nick Roma of White Industries Ltd being in charge of the course building and perfect slope conditions at site, the World Cup finals are expected to deliver a thrilling eight and final round with the race for the women's Crystal Globe being an exciting duel of two formidable racers.
Right now, sitting on top of the ranking with 4,650 points, Michela Moioli (ITA) is looking good to bring home her first career title.
Having missed only one big final this season in Montafon, Austria the 20-year-old from Alzano Lombardo hasn't had a worse finish than the sixth rank from the season's opener last December.
If Moioli can keep the momentum of her incredibly strong streak of top results including the win from Veysonnaz, Switzerland two weeks ago, the snowboard cross World Cup title should be hers.
However, although she has a lead of 390 points on Eva Samkova (CZE, 4,260), it won't be a sure-fire success for her.
If the World Cup leader and the 2014 Olympic champion both make it to the big final, Moioli has to place at least right behind of Samkova to secure the trophy.
Behind this winter's two fastest women, four more racers are trying to also finish the season off in style: defending champion Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA, 3,720), her teammate and 2014 Olympic bronze medallist Chloe Trespeuch (FRA, 3,660), Belle Brockhoff (AUS, 3,460) and four-time world champion Lindsey Jacobellis (USA, 3,410) all have a well-deserved claim on placing in the top-3 of the final ranking.
While the women's event features a tight duel for the title, the men’s race for the snowboard cross Crystal Globe has already been decided two weeks ago, with 2014 Olympic champion Pierre Vaultier (FRA, 4,640) having clinched his fourth career title ahead of the season finale.
Nevertheless, three racers are still fighting hard for the second and third spot on the podium reserved for the season's best sbx performers.
Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT, 3,440) sits in second position with 2014 Olympic silver medallist Nikolay Olyunin (RUS, 3,060) and 2015 title winner Lucas Eguibar (SPA, 2,766) following in third and fourth position.
And even US veteran and third oldest racer on tour Nick Baumgartner (2,306) still has a small chance to jump on the season's podium.
While qualifiers are slated to take place on Saturday, March 19th at 10:45 AM (men) and 1:30 PM (women), the final of the best 16 women and 32 men is scheduled for Sunday, March 20th at 12:45 PM.
The full programme can be viewed here.
WORLD CUP STANDINGS