The 2019/20 FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup season is set to start in a big way this weekend, as the world’s best snowboard racers are on hand and hungry to open the new season at a new venue in Bannoye, Russia, where back-to-back days of competition will see parallel giant slalom action on Saturday and parallel slalom on Sunday.
Located in the southern Ural Mountains on the shores of Lake Bannoye, some 1,600kms east of Moscow, Bannoye is a small but well-loved ski resort that will be hosting its first major snowboard competition of any kind this weekend. However, competition organizers in Russia consistently prove themselves to be some of the very best in the world, and with a highly-committed team, a top-notch piste, and favourable snow conditions, all the pieces are in place for a successful debut for the venue.
Earlier this week we posted our big, all-encompassing alpine SB season preview, and you should check that out HERE to get situated for all the action that’s to come this season. However, there’s still a few things to note before competition starts this weekend in Bannoye.
Tops among those items is the fact that last year’s women’s parallel overall and PGS crystal globe-winner and reigning Olympic PGS champion Ester Ledecka (CZE) will not be on hand in Bannoye, as she’s starting her season on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup circuit in Lake Louise (CAN).
While we do expect Ledecka back on a board after the holiday break, with the sport’s most dominant athlete out of the picture for the season opener it’s up to the other women in the field to step up and size an opportunity.
Nadya Ochner (ITA) got out to a hot start last season with a win on home soil at Carezza, while the likes of Ramona Hofmeister (GER), Julie Zogg (SUI), and Sabine Schoeffmann all found there way onto the podium before the new year in 2018/19. All four of those riders finished in the overall top six by season’s end, and all will once again be looking for a strong start to a successful campaign in 2019/20.
Over on the men’s side there will also be a big absence in Bannoye, as Ledecka’s PyeongChang 2018 Olympic-gold-medal-winning counterpart Nevin Galmarini (SUI) remains sidelined with a back injury.
Tim Mastnak (SLO) is another example that proves the importance of a strong start to the season, as his win at the first race in Carezza last year propelled the 28-year-old through a 2018/19 campaign that would see him take the PGS crystal globe by season’s end, for the first time in his career.
Other fast starts on the men’s side in 2018/19 included Benjamin Karl (AUT), who took podiums in all three of the season’s first three races, Roland Fischnaller (ITA), and Sebastian Kislinger (AUT).
Also to watch out for is the host Russian squad. Featuring last year’s men’s parallel overall crystal globe winner Andrey Sobolev and Utah 2019 world championships double gold medallist Dmitry Loginov on the men’s side, as well as Utah 2019 world champs PGS silver medallist Natalia Soboleva and two-time junior world champion Milena Bykova on the women’s team, the Russians are one of the best carving squads in the world. And, with a proven history of performing well on home soil, don’t be surprised to see several of the 12 podium spots up for grabs this weekend go to the host team.
The schedule for Saturday’s PSL World Cup competition and for Sunday’s PGS competition in Bannoye is the same for both days, with qualifications beginning at 9:00 local time (CET +4), followed by finals at 13:00.