The 2019/20 FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup season hit the ground running on Saturday in Bannoye (RUS), where Julia Zogg (SUI) and Andreas Prommegger (AUT) got the new campaign successfully underway with impressive parallel slalom wins in what was an extremely tight day of racing.
While the parallel giant slalom competition in Bannoye was originally slated to go down on Saturday, with PSL slated for Sunday, some extremely high winds leading up to the weekend had officials and organizers shuffle the schedule to best ensure that both competitions would be able to take place. Fortunately for everyone on hand in Bannoye, the winds died down before Saturday morning’s qualification runs, and an exciting day of racing took place under mostly blue skies and in front of big crowds at the newest venue on the alpine SB circuit.
Last year’s PSL crystal globe winner and Utah 2019 PSL world champion, Swiss rider Zogg appeared to simply pick up where she left off last season on Saturday, qualifying in fourth place before dispatching Sabine Schoeffmann (AUT), Michelle Dekker (NED), and Daniela Ulbing (AUT) on her to a big final where she would face down last year’s second overall-ranked rider Selina Joerg (GER).
Regular-footed Zogg got out of the gate well and into a small lead that she would build on steadily throughout the big final, keeping the pressure on goofy-footed Joerg. And while Joerg wouldn’t make any major mistakes as she tried to chase down Zogg, she did seem to swing a little bit wide on one turn with six gates to go, opening some space and allowing Zogg to cross the line for her third career victory with ease.
“It’s really great,” said Zogg after the race, “It’s my third career victory, but to get it in the first race of the season is really, really good for me. I’ve got the yellow bib now after the first race, and I hope I’m still wearing it after the last race of the season.”
Behind Zogg and Joerg in third place was Ladina Jenny (SUI), as the 26-year-old was able to best Austria’s Daniela Ulbing in the small final to open her season with a podium.
Over on the men’s side of things it was the veteran Andeas Prommegger (AUT), in his 247th career World Cup start, getting his 18th career victory in an extremely close, come-from-behind performance by the 39-year-old.
After dispatching with his countryman Arvid Auner (AUT), top-qualifier Roland Fischnaller (ITA), and Maurizio Bormolini (ITA) on his way to the big final, Prommegger would find himself lined up against Italy’s Aaron March, who was racing in his first individual big final in over two years.
Out of the gate, through the course’s middle section, and approaching the homestretch it was March pushing the pace from out front. However, in the same spot where Jeorg made her small mistake in the ladies’ competition, Prommegger was able to find the right line and reel March in, crossing the line just .03 seconds ahead of the Italian for an inspired season-opening win.
“It was perfect…the win was perfect today,” a smiling Prommegger said from the finish area, “It was really unexpected for me, because I didn’t feel that good in slalom so far this season. I’ve been feeling better in the GS. It was a tough race, hard riding, but I managed to take the win. Having the yellow bib is nice for right now, but there’s a lot of races still to come this season.”
Third place for the men went to March’s Italian teammate Maurizio Bormolini, who was able to face down Austria’s Alexander Payer in the small final and walk away with the win in another tight men’s heat, giving Bormolini his third career World Cup podium.
Action in Bannoye continues on Sunday with the parallel giant slalom World Cup competition, where qualifications are set to begin at 9:00 local time (CET +4), followed by finals at 13:00.