Phoenix Park (KOR) - It’s a historic weekend coming up for the FIS Snowboard alpine World Cup tour, as we return to the Snowboard venue of last year’s PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games for a back-to-back parallel giant slalom races on Saturday and Sunday - the first time the FIS Snowboard alpine World Cup has revisited an Olympic venue post-Games.
Making this weekend even more special is the fact that two of the most famous moments of the PyeongChang 2018 Games went down on the slopes at Bokwang Phoenix Park just under one year ago, when Ester Ledecka (having already won Alpine Skiing gold in the giant slalom), won PGS gold to become the first athlete in Olympic history to win two gold medals at the same Games using different equipment.
Then, just moments after Ledecka’s unprecedented accomplishment, Korea’s own Sangho Lee swept across the finish line just behind gold medal-winner Nevin Galmarini (SUI) to earn Olympic silver, giving the host Koreans their one and only medal across all the Snowboard and Freestyle ski competitions held at Phoenix Park, in the final event held at the venue.
Until now, that is, as the top men and ladies’ of carving return to the scene of last year’s epic show excited for another round of top-level racing after coming fresh from what was a challenging set of competitions at the Utah 2019 world championships last week.
The biggest story of the weekend will be the return of Ledecka to snowboard competition for the first time since December, as the multi-faceted athlete spent the first part of 2019 competing on the Alpine Ski World Cup. Despite her lack of action in the last month and a half, Ledecka’s 1800 points still has her just 100 points back of Nadya Ochner’s (ITA) 1900 on the PGS leaderboard, and though she is further back in the parallel overall race, nothing is out of reach for supremely talented 25-year-old.
Others to watch out for on the ladies’ side include PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Selina Joerg, who is fresh off a PGS gold-medal winning performance at the Utah 2019 world championships, Natalia Soboleva (RUS), who sits third on the PGS World Cup rankings and has six top-10 results in parallel competition so far this season, and Julie Zogg (SUI) who won Utah 2019 gold in PSL and claimed third at the World Cup test event in PyeongChang back in 2017.
Over on the men’s side of things, current parallel World Cup overall leader and reigning PyeongChang 2018 gold medallist Nevin Galmarini (SUI) announced this week that he would be stepping back from racing for the rest of this season in order to heal an ailing back.
With Galmarini out of the picture and the above-mentioned Sangho Lee struggling to find his form in 2018/19, and PyeongChang 2018 bronze medallist Zan Kosir (SLO) may be the only Olympic podium athlete likely to be in the mix this weekend in the men’s competition, though he too has yet to reach the podium this season.
Hottest coming into the Korean competition is Russia’s Dmitry Loginov, who was able to snag double gold last week at Utah 2019, sweeping the world championships parallel competitions. Though the 20-year-old sits will down the World Cup standings, he seems poised for a strong finish to the season.
Roland Fischnaller is the current PGS World Cup leader, and comes into PyeongChang with Utah 2019 PSL silver in his back pocket, as well as a 7th-place finish at last years Games that he will be looking to build upon. Benjamin Karl and Andreas Promegger, both of Austria, currently sit fourth and fifth on the PGS World Cup rankings, respectively, while Italy’s Edwin Coratti and Aaron March, and Tim Mastnak of Slovenia should also be counted on for some strong riding this weekend as well.
Both Saturday and Sunday’s PyeongChang PGS competitions will begin at 14:00 local time in Korea.