Fawcett and Riegler take Gold in Ischgl GS

Ischgl (AUT). The sunshine mostly stayed away from the Idalpe in Ischgl, Austria, when the fifth Giant Slalom of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup was held there today but however, the conditions turned out to be all right. Canadian Mark Fawcett and Manuela Riegler from Austria won.

The day had started with some snow falls and fog and people were reminded of last year’s weather conditions but except for a slight delay the race could be held as scheduled this time. With temperatures around minus five degrees and just a few snow showers the riders faced good conditions again. Super-G specialist Mark Fawcett from Canada had finished third in the first run today and had to be considered for a podium although he has never made it to the top three so far this season. With the fastest time in the second run he finally closed the gap and took his first gold after more than a year. “I was supposed to go home a week ago and do some little snowboard camp at home,” he said, obviously feeling relieved that he had changed his plans, “but then I thought about this event. I knew I could win, I’m riding well and just had bad luck and I’m so happy I stayed. It wasn’t that easy today, especially in the lower part, we all had problems there since the terrain itself was kind of falling away at some turns plus the second course was set pretty challenging too, but… the best man got it.” Last year’s GS World Cup champion Stefan Kaltschütz from Austria, back on the tour after an injury during training about three weeks ago, had not been able to get the crash out of his mind in yesterday’s Parallel Slalom and failed but he looked like he wanted it today and finally made it to second place. “It has been kind of silly to try the Slalom first with all those short turns,” he said. “I got the receipt yesterday with the crash in the qualifications and it hurt all night long. However, I tried to overcome the pain and the memory of the crash today and it worked. I had the choice: everything or nothing and once I got to the last steeper sections I was a little scared but then I forced myself to keep on and it worked. I’m so happy.” US rider Christopher J. Klug who was leading after the first run only finished seventh in the second run and ended up third.With today’s win Kaltschütz took the lead in the Giant Slalom World Cup again. France’s Matthieu Bozzetto who did not qualify for the second run today after he had crashed in the first and finished 71st only, is in second place now, ahead of Klug.

NOKIA World team rider Manuela Riegler from Austria took the gold in the womens’ race, her first-ever in Giant Slalom. She had already been the fastest rider in the first run but, opposite to previous experiences, did not seem to take too much pressure on her for the second. “I had a good gap after the first run but I didn’t want to risk this by getting too nervous and therefore I stayed cool. I just tried to do it as in the first, be relaxed but at the same time try to attack, tactics is not my business, I had failed so often in the past…” Italy’s Margerita Parini, third after the first run, had the fastest time in the second and claimed the silver. “After I had crashed in the first run,” she said, “I could not make up the time and Manuela was really strong today.” Isabel Zedlacher from Austria finished third, her first podium after almost two years.Sweden’s Aasa Windahl who did not qualify for the second run today and finished 23rd only, took the lead in the Giant Slalom standings ahead. US rider Sondra van Ert, who had mixed the womens’ and the mens’ track in the first run and finished 37th today, dropped back to second in the World Cup. Manuela Riegler moved up to third.

The eleventh World Cup stage will be concluded with the season’s fifth Snowboard Cross tomorrow.