Val Thorens (FRA) - After several days of heavy snow, strong winds, and nonexistent visibility derailed the competition programme at the inaugural Val Thorens (FRA) FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup, Tuesday dawned clear and calm - an encouraging sign for the final available day for training and qualifications ahead of Wednesday’s scheduled race.
While the morning’s training runs and the first run of men’s qualification got off without a hitch, by the seventh competitor of the ladies’ qualifications a heavy fog settled over the Val Thorens, forcing a course hold. Though the fog lifted again for long enough to get through to the 28th competitor of the day, after that it would settle back in for good, forcing officials to call off the rest of the day's programme.
After a meeting by officials and team captains in the finish area a plan was agreed upon that should facilitate a successful snowboard cross World Cup competition for Wednesday, when weather in Val Thorens is expected to be fair once again for much of the day.
This means that the men’s first qualification run from Tuesday will stand alone, with the men’s finals getting underway at 12:30 CET on Wednesday. The ladies qualification, meanwhile, will be re-run on Wednesday morning beginning at 10:00.
In the one run of men’s qualifications that was completed it was the Aussies looking strong, with Adam Lambert and Jarryd Hughes going one-two to lead the way, while their teammate Alex Pullin slotted in fifth overall. Italy’s Emanuel Parethoner finished the seeding round in third spot, while the top French rider on the afternoon was reigning Olympic gold medallist Pierre Vaultier in 13th spot.
Overall, riders seemed happy with a Val Thorens course that they were seeing on Tuesday for the very first time, as the track picked up speed and flow throughout the day as the riders broke it in.
The USA’s Hagan Kearney was first to drop in for qualification, and after finishing up the day ranked 18th he reflected on his first first impressions of the venue in Val Thorens.
“It was crazy coming here…I haven’t seen snow like that in a long time,” said Kearney, “We weren’t sure if we were going to be running here or not. But it’s cool that they got it together. In the morning it was definitely crazy training on this course, it seemed pretty tough, but I think once everyone worked into it it actually flows pretty nice. The bottom keeps you on your toes with some tight turns and the top is super glide-y, so (the course) has kinda got the best of everything.”
A Gutsy performance from both sides