Samkova and Haemmerle grab Crystal Globes as SBX season wraps up in Veysonnaz

Veysonnaz (SUI) - The 2018/19 FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup closed out in epic style on Saturday afternoon in Veysonnaz (SUI), where endless sun and a perfectly-running track greeted the world’s top riders. There, Eva Samkova (CZE) claimed the win on the day and the ladies’ crystal globe, while Lucas Eguibar (ESP) won a thriller in the men’s competition and Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) took the men’s globe in what was a nail-biting race for this season’s World Cup title.

Coming into competition in Veysonnaz Samkova was tied atop the standings with the USA’s Lindsey Jacobellis with 3,400 points apiece, with both ladies landing on the podium in every race leading up to the season finale. 

While most anticipated a big final shootout between Samkova and Jacobellis on Saturday afternoon, that dream scenario for fans would unfortunately not come to be, as Jacobellis faltered in her semifinal heat and was forced to settle for fifth place with a small final win, and second-overall on the season.

In the big final Samkova would line up against Michaela Moioli (ITA), Charlotte Bankes (GBR), and Chloe Trespeuch (FRA), the third, fourth, and fifth ranked riders on the ladies’ tour, respectively. 

When Bankes crashed just out of the start gate the day’s podium riders were essentially determined from the outset, and with the crystal globe already assured to her Samkova was able to ride free and easy to the win in the final World Cup run of the season, crossing the line with a healthy lead over Trespeuch in second and Moioli third.

“I didn’t expect this in the beginning of the season,” Samkova smiled after the awards ceremony, her signature moustache still painted on her face, “I thought maybe I would have a good year, but to be on the podium in every competition and end up with the globe is crazy. It’s special to finish the whole season and never be worse than third.

“When I got back to the top after semifinals my wax tech was like, ‘You won the globe!’ and I was just like ‘Oh my god!’ I was feeling good riding all day but it was nice to have a big final without pressure where I could just go for it. It was a fun day.”

Samkova adds the 2018/19 crystal globe to a season tally that also includes gold at the Utah 2019 world championships in February.

In the men’s race, it looked all week like the win in Veysonnaz would be Alessandro Haemmerle’s for the taking, as he put down four of the top training times in the days leading up to the race before taking top spot in each of his first three heats of Saturday’s competition without breaking a sweat.

However, come time for the big final, Lucas Eguibar had other ideas. 

Out of the gate Eguibar would pull into a quick lead, and he, along with Haemmerle and the other big finalists Cameron Bolton (AUS) and Omar Visintin (ITA) flew through the course’s steep top section essentially neck-and-neck, before Haemmerle was able to pass Eguibar and open up a sizeable lead as he pumped his way strongly through the rollers on the traverse section.

But then through the jumps Eguibar made two strong moves to close the gap, before catching Haemmerle through the  next section of rollers and passing him on the final bank, crossing the line in first with Haemmerle in second, Bolton rounding out the podium in third, and Visintin fourth.

“In the final I was so focused,” said Eguibar on the his season-ending run, “I was just going to go, not look back, and take a lot of speed. I tried to follow (Haemmerle) through the roller line, and then through the middle of the course I was super fast. And that last turn, I like it a lot.

“I’m so happy to finish the season like this. This season’s been difficult for us, a lot of changes on the team, I changed some things with my riding and my training, and I wasn’t super happy with how it was going. And getting fourth at the world champs was difficult and frustrating. But to end the season like this is perfect.”

With the second-place finish Haemmerle was able to pass Germany’s Martin Noerl on the SBX World Cup leaderboard to claim his first career globe, after three straight seasons of finishing in the top three overall. And Haemmerle’s season title win was made all the more impressive when you consider that the 25-year-old finished 21st and 17th in his first two competitions of the year.

“I never gave up the thought that I could win this, but I knew it was going to be tough,” said Haemmerle with his globe in hand, “I changed a lot with my set-up this season and just kept improving, looking for the top of the podium, and I’m just so happy that it all worked out. 

“Today I just felt so good on the track - I was almost too fast today in training and overshot one of the jumps. I didn’t think anyone would be able to catch me, but Lucas played that final run so well, so congrats to him. But now I’m just going to enjoy this (crystal globe win) for a little bit, go surf, and in a little while start getting ready for next season.”

Second overall on the season would go to Visintin, while Noerl would drop down to third after finishing in 17th in Saturday’s competition.