The final stop on the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup tour yet again in 2020/21, Switzerland’s Veysonnaz resort, has established itself as the most long-standing and dependable stop on the SBX circuit, having hosted World Cup competition nearly every season back to 2009/2010, during which time the resort has been the scene of the World Cup finals three times.
Big, fast, and technical all at once, Veysonnaz demands the best out of the riders in every run, from the first to the big final, therefore this season’s grand finale in Switzerland should be grand indeed. Especially, since the battle for the crystal globes is to be fought out here on both, the women’s and men’s side.
With three new World Cup stops in the books for this season, Valmalenco, Reiteralm and Bakuriani, and a new venue for the FIS Cross World Championships in Idre back in February, this snowboard cross season has been full excitement. New courses, new destinations, new venues always make a difference that coming to a venue that is already known by the athletes.
That is why it will be even more exciting to see the battles for the crystal globes go down in Veysonnaz, as athletes are familiar with the FIS Snowboard Cross finals stage.
Epic battle ahead between Moioli and Samkova
Needless to say, that Saturday’s finals are definitely going to be ones to watch as we have a situation that we never had before. World Championships silver medallist and three-times crystal globe winner Michela Moioli (ITA) and World Champs bronze medallist and two-times crystal globe winner Eva Samkova (CZE) are entering the final competition of the season with an equal amount of World Cup points. 350 points each means that there is a total tie in points between the two athletes.
Due to a tie break it is Samkova wearing the yellow leader bib, but that is just a formality really. Both athletes will certainly enter the competition with one goal and one goal only: to take home the crystal globe!
Will Moiloi be able to defend her overall World Cup winning title from last season? The Italian won a total of four times already (2015, 2016, 2018, 2020) on the Swiss finals course, proving that she knows how to conquer it.
On the other hand, Samkova managed to win one time at the finals here in 2019, the same year, she earned her second crystal globe.
Looking at the World Cup performances, Samkova managed to be on the podium three times this year with one third place and one victory at back-to-back races in Valmalenco (ITA), and one victory in Bakuriani (GEO). Winning two small finals additionally got her to the number of points that she carries now.
Moioli however earned two victories this season, one on home soil in Valmalenco and one in Reiteralm (AUT). She was however able to make it into the big final in every competition of the season, earning her three fourth places additionally.
Sitting in third is US athlete Faye Gulini with 282 points, who made a strong appearance this season with back-to-back second places in Valmalenco and a third place at the second competition in Bakuriani.
But very closely behind her on the World Cup standings is French young athlete Julia Pereira de Sousa Mabileau, who jumped on the podium twice this season, that being a third place in Valmalenco and a second place in Bakuriani on race day number one.
So, these two ladies will be battling it out for the third spot at the World Cup standings.
We also would like to take a minute and mention that the most successful SBX athlete of all times, USA’s Lindsey Jacobellis will be starting at her 100th World Cup this Saturday. Certainl, this will be a memorable day for the SBX star. With 55 World Cup podiums and 31 victories, as well as five World Champs gold medals and one Olympic silver medal, Jacobellis truly is the “GOAT” of snowboard cross.
And, Jacobellis made it back to the podium this season twice (one second place at Reiteralm and one third place in Bakuriani), showing that she certainly is not tired of racing or winning. She did, as a matter of fact, also win twice on the Veysonnaz course in 2012.
Maybe her 100th World Cup start will get her another podium spot to the unbelievable list of achievements.
Can Haemmerle defend his title and make it a crystal globe three-peat?
Looking on the men’s side of things, the fight for the crystal globe is also still open. With a total of 330 points, Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) is sitting in the pole position for a crystal globe three-peat, which he claimed to be one of his goals in an interview before the season started.
Haemmerle took the victory in Veysonnaz once so far, which was last year at the World Cup finals 2020, this victory also making it decisive for his second crystal globe win. He managed to hop on the podium four more times at the Swiss resort before, but never quite on top, claiming three third places (2013, 2016, 2016) and one second place (2019).
To recap Haemmerle’s season so far: With two victories in Valmalenco and Reiteralm respectively and a third place in an incredible big final fight in Bakuriani, where he almost crashed, the Austrian has earned three podium spots so far and also made it into the big final on the first competition in Bakuriani, claiming fourth.
With a silver medal win at the World Champs in Idre, Haemmerle underlined his extraordinary strong shape and showed that he is ready to give it his everything until the very finish line. So, for sure, Haemmerle is in a very good position to be reaching his goal for another overall World Cup win.
His biggest competition this season comes from Canada, he is 19 years old and is named Eliot Grondin. The young Canadian is sitting 62 points behind the Austrian and after very strong performances this season so far, one can expect that he will be in strongly for the battle for the highly anticipated crystal globe.
Grondin claimed a second place in Valmalenco at the season opener and then earned his career maiden World Cup win in Bakuriani at the last World Cup stop before the finals. With this confidence boost and a World Champs bronze medal in his pocket, Grondin will be ready to try and prevent Haemmerle from reaching his goal.
So, we can certainly expect a good battle at the end of the season between these two gentlemen.
In third position, we have Dutch athlete Glenn de Blois, who took his maiden podium and maiden victory at the first competition of the season in Valmalenco. With two sixth places in Bakuriani, de Blois made a statement that he has not given up the fight to earn more podium spots this season. Surely, the Dutch athlete will try to defend his third position in the overall standings, but he will have to fight Lorenzo Sommariva (ITA) in order to achieve that.
The Italian is sitting only one point behind de Blois and therefore clearly, he has the chance to make it still to third. Hence, also this battle will be a good one to watch.
For the first time ever, there will also be an award for female and male rookie of the year. There will be a vote among all team captains on the day before finals and the previously determined candidates with the most votes will be awarded “Rookie of the year”.
Also, a Nations Cup will be awarded to the nation with the most earned points throughout the season, for the first time ever.
As you can see, nothing but pure excitement, adrenaline and some serious battles are ahead of us for Saturday’s final show of the season. You better make sure to tune in and watch it, because it is going to be good!
Veysonnaz title defenders from March 2020: Michela Moioli (ITA) and Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT).
Last year’s SBX Crystal Globe winners: Michela Moioli (ITA) and Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT).
We will be going straight to finals on March 20 at 14:15 CET sharp.
WATCH LIVE (subject to change)
Saturday, March 20 at 14:15 CET:
TV: ORF Sport+ (Austria) at 14:30 CET, CT Sport (Czech Republic), Olympic Channel (USA)
Livestream: Swisscom.bluesport; swiss-ski.ch (Switzerland), Eurosport player (Europe) , ORF Sport+ (Austria)