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Tsubaki Miki and Oskar Kwiatkowski crowned PGS world champions

Feb 19, 2023·Alpine Snowboard
Tsubaki Miki and Oskar Kwiatkowski claim PGS World Championship titles © Miha Matavz/FIS

History makers Tsubaki Miki of Japan and Poland’s Oskar Kwiatkowski are parallel giant slalom world champions after a dramatic first day at the 2023 FIS Freestyle Ski, Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia on Sunday (19 February).

Both claimed alpine snowboard world gold for the first time ever for their nations with Miki beating Olympic silver medallist, Daniela Ulbing of Austria in the big final, while Kwiatkowski overcame Switzerland’s two-time World Cup winner, Dario Caviezel to take the win in the men’s edition.

In the small finals, Aleksandra Krol (POL) beat Lucia Dalmasso (ITA) to the final podium spot, after both made mistakes but Dalmasso’s slide on the more challenging red course proved more costly.

Austrian team-mates and friends, Benny Karl and Alex Payer then battled it out for the final podium spot in the men's small final, with Payer beating the reigning giant slalom Olympic champion to the bronze medal.

On a day beset by wind flurries and a challenging set on a tough hill in the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, Miki claimed individual honours with a debut world championship title beating Olympic silver medallist and favourite Ulbing into second. The top qualifier fell while pushing for the win leaving a stunned Miki, who has not even had a World Cup podium finish this season, to become world champion.

“I’m so happy,” said a thrilled Tsubaki, who had started her day by beating current PGS tour leader, Germany’s Ramona Theresia Hofmeister in the round of 16. “I always wanted to get the win so I cannot say anything. Thank you.”

Japan's Tsubaki Miki wins PGS world title © Miha Matavz/FIS
Japan's Tsubaki Miki wins PGS world title © Miha Matavz/FIS

Miki also beat overall tour leader, Julie Zogg, after the Swiss fell and skidded through the side netting in the quarter finals. Stretchered off the hill, Zogg will likely be a doubt for the next two events, the parallel slalom on Tuesday (21 February) and the team event, potentially alongside Caviezel, on Wednesday (22 February).

Shortly after bagging Poland’s first ever world medal in snowboard alpine, Krol’s compatriot Kwiatkowski claimed Poland’s second, this time a gold, beating Caviezel by just 0.26s. Both claimed first-ever world championship medals.

“It’s amazing,” said PGS World Cup tour leader Kwiatkowski on his win. “I can’t believe it. But this race was really hard, it was really difficult. I was thinking okay, just come down and stay on the board and go as fast as possible. I tried to be calm today.”

Oskar Kwiatkowski wins first ever world gold for Poland © Miha Matavz/FIS
Oskar Kwiatkowski wins first ever world gold for Poland © Miha Matavz/FIS

Caviezel, meanwhile, had knocked out one of the legends of the sport, Austria's Andreas Prommegger, in the quarter finals while World Cup overall tour leader Payer, bounced top qualifier and second ranked to him in this season's standings so far, Maurizio Bormolini (ITA), in the same round.

Additional shocks in the men’s event saw the likes of Arvid Auner (AUT), Stefan Baumeister (GER), Edwin Coratti (ITA), Roland Fischnaller (ITA) – second at the last world championships in Rogla, Slovenia in 2021 – and Aaron March (ITA) unable to progress past qualifying.

On being asked how he felt ahead of the team competition, which takes place on Wednesday and in which he’ll likely pair up with Krol, Kwiatkowski said: “I was checking Ola every heat, at the top, and I was so motivated... and I’m very happy to be on the podium with Ola, that’s amazing.”

The second of the three snowboard alpine races at the World Championships takes place on 21 February (PSL) and concludes with mixed parallel slalom on 22 February. A return to the World Cup tour post championships sees the Livigno (ITA) races cancelled, but races in Rogla (SLO) on 15 March and Berchtesgaden (GER) on 18-19 March round out the season.

World Championships 2023 PGS results – women

1 Tsubaki Miki (JPN)  
2 Daniela Ulbing (AUT)
3 Aleksandra Krol (POL)
4 Lucia Dalmasso (ITA)

World Championships 2023 PGS results – men

1 Oskar Kwiatkowski (POL)
2 Dario Caviezel (SUI)
3 Alex Payer (AUT)
4 Benny Karl (AUT)

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