Weatherwise it has been a wonderfully rewarding week for the SBX family here in Reiteralm, Austria, as the sun was shining and temperatures were all spring-like, which created a good mood all around. We got to witness some tight racing and a great SBX show at the Austrian Crosspark in Reiteralm.
Bankes back to winning ways
For the big final of women, the following athletes entered into the gate: World Champion Charlotte Bankes from Great Britain, long-time rival Michela Moioli (ITA), home hero Pia Zerkhold from Austria and Canadian young gun Audrey McManiman, who made it into the big final for the first time in her career.
It was actually the 23-year-old Austrian out of the start gate first and getting into the lead of the pack with Moioli in second and Bankes in third, while the Canadian was in fourth. Zerkhold was on fire and you could tell that she was going to go for the podium at her home race.
Then, out of nowhere, Bankes did what she does best – she generated some speed coming out of a turn and sneaked by Moioli first and then also by Zerkhold to get into the lead. Moioli and Zerkhold where side-by-side, but the Italian veteran managed to defend her second position, whereas the Austrian was in third and then seemed to have lost some speed, as McManiman was able to also pass the Austrian.
For a short time, it looked like the pack was still pretty close, but two small mistakes by Zerkhold caused her to lose more speed and the fight for the podium was lost.
Bankes, after her pass was super safe in position number one and therefore also crossed the finish line first, with Moioli coming in second and McManiman taking her maiden World Cup podium in third. What an incredible big final of women!
Lorenzo Sommariva on fire
On the men’s side, the four gentlemen left for the big final were Italy’s Lorenzo Sommariva, for the first time in his career French athlete Quentin Sodogas, home hero Jakob Dusek and Kalle Koblet from Switzerland.
Jakob Dusek had a rocket start out of the gate, but very quickly, Sommariva came neck-and-neck with the Austrian and clearly wanted to pass him on his back side, which he successfully managed to do. The French young gun Sodogas managed to get into third position, whereas the Swiss stayed in the very back of the heat.
While Sommariva had quite the margin in first position, you could tell that Dusek was on fire and wanted to fight for the victory on home soil. The Austrian tried to pass Sommariva, but the Italian did everything in his power to defend his top spot.
Then, in one of the turns, Koblet came seemingly out of nowhere and made the pass on Sodogas into third. And coming into the last bank turn before the final jump, that’s when it got super tight one more time, as Dusek took the outside line and almost got passed by Koblet. In the end, Dusek could defend his second position, whereas Sommariva took his first season win and third career victory in total. A tight photo finish then decided that Kalle Koblet was third, taking his second-ever career podium.
Crystal globe updates
After today’s competition, the yellow leader bib belongs still to Charlotte Bankes on the women’s side, who has now a total of 569 points to her name. With Satuday’s victory, the British athlete actually did seal the deal for her first career crystal globe, as she is 113 points ahead of Michela Moioli, who has 456 points on her account. The over 100-point lead can not be reached anymore by Moioli or Chloe Trespeuch from France, who is currently sitting in third rank at the overall World Cup standings with 435 points.
So, entering into the World Cup finals in Veysonnaz, it will be a battle for second and third rank of the overall World Cup standings between Moioli and the brand-new Olympic silver medallist Chloe Trespeuch.
On the men’s side, with Haemmerle out in the quarter finals due to a crash caused by another rider, the way to the leader bib was paved for Martin Noerl from Germany, who had been riding very well since the double-wins in Krasnoyarsk and with Saturday’s small final win, the German could keep the leader bib. He has now a total of 431 points, with a margin of 45 points ahead of Olympic Champion Alessandro Haemmerle, who has 386 points and on their tales is also Jakob Dusek in for the crystal globe fight with 364 points.
We will pack things up here and move on to the final stop of the season, which will be the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup finals in Veysonnaz (SUI) on March 20. This will be, when the real crystal globe battle will be decided. This will be one to watch. This also means that you should not miss it!