Trespeuch and Holland on top at PyeongChang

27 February 2016 09:12
PyeongChang SBX podium
PyeongChang SBX podium -
FIS/Buchholz

The World Cup snowboard cross test event for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games took place on Saturday at Korea’s Bokwang Phoenix Park resort, with Chloe Trespeuch (FRA) claiming her first World Cup win in the ladies’ event and Nate Holland (USA) returning to the top of the podium after a four-year dry spell in the men’s competition. 

As was the case seemingly every day leading up to the competition, course conditions changed again on Saturday, after a substantial snowfall overnight gave way to sunshine and some of the warmest temperatures seen all week. Still, after some minor adjustments by course builders overnight, the track ran well, and right from the first heat the racing was tight and action-packed. 

Trespeuch took her first victory in impressive fashion, lining up in a stacked big final against the likes of reigning world champion Lindsey Jacobellis (USA), reigning Olympic champion Eva Samkova (CZE), and the rider who now wears the yellow World Cup SBX leader’s bib, Michela Moioli (ITA).

It was anybody’s race until the very end in the ladies’ big final, with Moioli looking like she would take the Olympic preview event like three years ago for Sochi 2014 until a small mistake on the course’s last feature slowed her up and allowed Trespeuch to slingshot past and across the line in first. 

“I’m very happy about this victory because it’s my first World Cup win and I’m happy to do it on the Olympic course,” a beaming Trespeuch said from the finish area. “The course was very fun and there was a lot of action going on. It was amazing.”

Despite her mistake, Moioli managed to hold off a charging Samkova for second place, while Jacobellis had to settle for fourth despite looking like a sure podium bet all day.

With her second-place result, Moioli managed to jump ahead of Samkova in the World Cup standings, and now holds the yellow SBX leader’s bib by a slim 40 point margin, with 3200 points to Samkova’s 3160. 

“I’m happy for second-place,” said Moioli, “But I made that mistake and so I’m not totally satisfied, because I could have won. But the course is very good. It’s fun. And for the Olympics it’s very good, and I hope that it will be a good event and maybe I’ll get a good result there. As for the yellow bib, we’ll see in Vesonnaz what will happen. I hope to finally take first place.”

In men’s competition, 38-year-old Holland emerged as un unlikely winner, having qualified for finals in 35th place and been the recipient of some good luck when crashes happened ahead of him in the heats leading up to the big final.

There, however, he stayed clear of any kind of mistakes, battling through an intense cheek-to-cheek final heat that saw all six of the riders in a position to take the lead and the win from top to bottom. Through the critical final rhythm section Holland was able to nail his timing and transitions and pull through the finish with a comfortable-enough lead that he was able to claim the win a he crossed the line. 

Holland absorbed his first World Cup win in over four years with his typical brand of humour.

“It was a hectic day of racing out there, for sure. I think I ollied over somebody at some point. There was a lot of drag racing. I had a lot of fun…a lot of fun. This course holds its speed, the features are huge, and this is what a boardercross should be, not just some thing where you all crash into turn one and whoever gets out first wins. This course allows people to come down to the wire. It’s bitchin’. I love it.”

Holland was followed across the line by Pierre Vaultier (FRA) in second and his US teammate Nick Baumgartner in third.

Vaultier, the Sochi 2014 Olympic champion and runaway leader of the 2015/16 FIS snowboard cross World Cup, is one of the most technical and cerebral riders on tour, and came into Saturday’s finals with a plan that just didn’t pan out the way he would have liked.

“It was pretty challenging,” he explained, “The snow conditions were really changing from the beginning of training, to qualification, and then even today from the morning there were changing conditions, It was pretty tough to start in the lead and finish in first, so I decided to take another approach and start in last and draft behind the guys and then make a pass for first. Unfortunately I only got second, but still it was a good strategy and it worked out well.”

With his second-place finish on the day Vaultier extended his lead on Nikolay Olyunin (RUS) to 1140 points - 3780 to 2640. Olyunin finished a disappointing 17th on the day, while third-overall rider Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) finished the day in fourth place to make up some ground on Olyunin.

From here, the SBX World Cup moves to Veysonnaz (SUI), for back-to-back competitions on March 5 and 6, 2016.

 

Full ladies’ results

Ladies’ World Cup standings

Full men’s results

Men’s World Cup standings

Photos 

 

 

 

 

 

Nate Holland 

 

“This is a new hill for us, a test event, some new snow last night, so the course was constantly changing from the first day I rode it to right now, and I like that a lot. I like a course that changes so don’t just dial in your line or your move and stick with that. You’ve gotta call audibles out here and ride the course.” 

 

“It was a hectic day of racing out there, for sure. I think I ollied over somebody at some point. There was a lot of drag racing. I had a lot of fun…a lot of fun. This course holds its speed, the features are huge, and this is what a boardercross should be, not just some thing where you all crash into turn one and whoever gets out first wins. This course allows people to come down to the wire. It’s bitchin’. I love it.”

 

Nick Baumgartner 

 

“Today was unbelievable. I started out wearing bib 34, so I wasn’t super stoked on my time trial. So I didn’t get to pick my lane all day, I only got the outsides, but I think I was winning every heat going down the first straightaway after turn one. I had great starts. Are you kidding me? I’m 34 years old, and to beat these young kids at starts? That’s exactly what I wanted. I trained all summer for that, and it’s paying off. I couldn’t be more stoked.”

 

“Korea is awesome. It’s so cool, everyone’s so stoked to see us, everyone’s so pumped. I like that. I like to feed off that energy. When I came down, you see my passion. I like to wear it on my sleeve. I’m excited and I’m screaming and it’s because I love what I’m doing and I’m fortunate to be able to do this.” 

 

Pierre Vaultier (FRA)

 

“It was pretty challenging. The snow conditions were really changing from the beginning of training, to qualification, and then even today from the morning there were changing conditions, It was pretty tough to start in the lead and finish in first, so I decided to take another approach and start in last and draft behind the guys and then make a pass for first. Unfortunately I only got second, but still it was a good strategy and it worked out well.”

 

Chloe Trespeuch (FRA)

 

“I’m very happy about this victory because it’s my first World Cup win and I’m happy to do it on the Olympic course. The course was very fun and there was a lot of action going on. It was amazing.”

 

Michela Moioli (ITA)

 

“I’m happy for second-place, but I was first until the last double and then I made a mistake and so I’m not totally satisfied, because I could have won. But the course is very good. It’s fun. And for the Olympics it’s very good, and I hope that it will be a good event and maybe I’ll get a good result there.”

 

“With the yellow bib, we’ll see in Vesonnaz what will happen. I hope to finally take first place.”

 

“It’s not easy to adapt every day to the changes of the course, but it’s ok. This is our job and you have to do it. So, it’s not a problem.”