An amazingly bluebird sky welcomed the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup athletes for their final show of the season in Switzerland’s Veysonnaz. We could feel the tension in the air, as there was a big fight about to happen with the main price not just being anything, but the SBX World Cup crystal globes. As well the women, as the men gave it their very best for the final battle of the season. And what a battle it was indeed…
Samkova earns third SBX crystal globe
For the final heat of the day on the women’s side, we saw the two athletes entering with the same amount of points, which was 350 to be exact, Eva Samkova (CZE) and Michela Moioli (ITA), joined by World Champion Charlotte Bankes (GBR) and French athlete Julia Pereira de Sousa Mabileau.
Out of the start gate, all four were pretty much neck-and-neck and it was not until after the first few elements, when “Ms.Moustache” Eva Samkova got in the lead, followed by the 19-year-old French athlete and entering into the first bank turn, the four came closer again with Moioli sitting in third and Bankes in fourth.
In the following straight roller section, you could see Samkova just pump it with all the energy she had, which got her some real speed and that way she was able to secure quite the margin ahead of the rest of the heat.
And exiting exact that section, Pereira de Sousa Mabileau was the only one who did not press that last roller, causing her to take off for a jump, at which she could not stand the landing and that’s when the young French crashed, taking Bankes, who was on the outside line, down with her. The French was now out of the game, but Bankes got up in no-time, just to continue the race.
Now it was pure drama, with Samkova and Moioli, left alone for the crystal globe battle - eye for an eye. The Czech was in the lead with Moioli 0.74 seconds behind her. It was World Championship bronze medal against World Champs silver medal on course and only at the very last bank it looked like Moioli could still manage to maybe pass Samkova, but in the end, it was “Ms. Moustache” crossing the finish line first and earning her third SBX crystal globe.
“It’s amazing, because every year it’s getting harder and harder, because all the girls are riding amazingly and really strong and I am so happy that I did it. Michi (Moioli) is so strong, and it was literally head-to-head until the finish line and from top to bottom I tried to do as much as possible, because I knew that she was coming, as she was right behind me,” a smiling Samkova said after the race. “It’s so fun to race like that, but also quite stressful at the same time. And I also want to congratulate all the girls, because it is so hard to be first with them,” she continued.
Haemmerle makes it a globe three-peat
The very finals show of the season was left to these four gentlemen: World Championship silver medallist Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT), who also entered the big final as the crystal globe winner, American veteran Hagen Kearney, Adam Lambert (AUS) and French young-gun Merlin Surget (FRA).
Haemmerle, as throughout the entire competition, had a rocket start out of the gate and was able to get in front of the rest of the heat, with Surget coming in second, right behind him. Entering into the first bank, Lambert’s board touched Kearney’s board, causing the Australian to crash and being out of the podium battle for the final show of the season.
After earning quite some speed at the straight roller section and entering into the upcoming bank, Surget come super close to the Austrian, threatening to make a passing move on him, but the higher line on the bank was the faster one, so Haemmerle stayed in first with the French really close on his tails.
It was at another upcoming bank, when Surget made a mistake and crashed, leaving Kearney the way to pass him and get into second position. The Frenchman got up quite fast again, but of course had lost all of his speed, taking him out of the battle for the topspot.
Haemmerle had now a free way to take the win home without any left threats, which he did and by taking this win, he also managed to defend his Vesonnaz winning title from last year. The Austrian has also now won the SBX crystal globe for the third consecutive year in a row.
“I am super happy to make it home with a final win. I mean, I was in the lead from the beginning, but I was never comfortable with it. I knew I had to give it my everything and pushed through some tough sequences and in the end managed to take the win,” Alessandro Haemmerle commented in the finish.
Final SBX Awards of the 2020/21 season:
As the final award ceremony was going down under a bluebird sky and the sun shining down on the crystal globes, the final rankings for the SBX World Cup season 2020/21 were the following:
1 - Eva Samkova (CZE)
2 – Michela Moioli (ITA)
3 – Faye Gulini (USA)
1 – Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT)
2 – Eliot Grondin (CAN)
3 – Merlin Surget (FRA)
The team captains also voted for the rookies of the year the day before the finals, and the awards went to the following athletes:
Female rookie of the year: Pia Zerkhold (AUT)
Male rookie of the year: Quentin Sodogas (FRA)
And in the end, the Nation’s Cup 2020/21 went to team USA.
Despite all challenges faced, it was an amazing FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup season 2020/21 with some true action and some excellent racing. Now, it's time to recharge the batteries over spring and summer and get ready for the Olympic season 2021/22.
Stay healthy everyone and thanks for following us along this season and see you next year!