Shigakogen/Nagano (JPN). After heavy snowfall throughout the week the participants of today’s Giant Slalom as part of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup have been pretty lucky with the weather today. Jasey Jay Anderson from Canada and Italy’s Margherita Parini won on the slope of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics.
No one would have believed that any race could be held today on the Mount Yakebitai at Shigakogen/Nagano until yesterday. Continiuous heavy snowfall all week, which has only stopped yesterday afternoon, had brought at least one meter of new snow to the Nagano area. Only thanks to the 24 hours work of the organisers, which were praised a lot by the riders, most of that snow could be removed from the Yakebitayama course just in time for today’s Giant Slalom. In addition the temperatures went down to minus 14 degrees centigrate and helped to pack the soft surface.
Jasey Jay Anderson from Canada really looked like he wanted it today after his bad experience on that slope at the Olympics two years ago, when he had been leading after the first run and dropped out in the second. Today he turned it around, took the lead again in the first but also succeeded in the second this time for his first-ever win in single Giant Slalom. “One of the reasons why I came to Japan was to take my revenge on this hill,” he said, “so it’s a lot off my shoulders, I can sleep at night now, I’m just really happy about that. Now I can think 2002, I’m all set.”
Nicolas Huet, fourth after the first run smoked the course in the second for the second fastest time and made it to second place overall. “There wasn’t a lot missing for a win but I’m really happy I got there,” the French said, “more than ever before since I just had a bad season in GS, really got zero. I’ve had the feeling that I could have done something but I never managed to finish both runs so far and when I did today I took second. This was very important for me and I really needed that.”
Stefan Kaltschütz from Austria, seventh after the first run, took the bronze. “I made some mistakes in the first run,” he said, “but I’m happy that I finally made it to the podium. At some sections the course was a bit rough but all in all the people over here really did a great job with the course preparation, just perfect.”
Kaltschütz is further leading the GS World Cup standings ahead of NOKIA World team rider Matthieu Bozzetto was had the fastest time in the first run and was disqualified after crossing a gate. Anderson moved up to third.
Margherita Parini took the gold in the women’s race. The Italian has been leading by almost two seconds after the first run and went for a safe race in the second. “It has been difficult today, but I worked it out,” she said, “the Japanese did a great job but the slope was a bit soft however. With bib number one I faced some bumps in the first run which made it tough. With the big lead from that run I really watched out in the second and tried to keep the control instead of taking any risk.”
Isabelle Blanc from France, who also had a bad memory for this slope since she only missed the last gate before the finish at the Olympics and for this had missed a medal, finished second. “For me there was some history behind it on this course,” she said, smiling, “being sixth after the first run I knew second place would still be possible, more than first with Margherita’s big lead. I just forced myself to go fast and always reminded myself to also pass the last gate. It worked all right and this is my first podium in GS this season so I will try do keep on in the remaining races.”
NOKIA rider Manuela Riegler from Austria went in third. “I already tried hard in the first run,” she said, “since the lower bibs really had an advantage and I had the 13. There have been a lot of bumps and it was a hard fight from top to bottom. The second was much better and I knew anything would be possible so I just attacked which has been working also inn other races before. Giant Slalom more and more becomes my race and I will try to keep on like this.”
Parini took the lead in the GS standings ahead of Riegler and Aasa Windahl from Sweden who dropped back from first after finishing fifth today. The season’s ninth Halfpipe is scheduled for tomorrow.