Livigno (ITA). For the first time in the 75 years of the FIS history the 1999/2000 finals of five disciplines (Alpine and Cross Country Skiing, Nordic Combined, Snowboard and Freestyle Skiing) are held at the same time in the Alta Valtellina region, at venues in a range of just a few kilometers from each other. Livigno will host the finals of the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup featuring Parallel Slalom, Snowboard Cross, Giant Slalom and Halfpipe.
After the qualifications in Parallel Slalom and Halfpipe to take place on Wednesday, 15 March, the first champions will be determined in head-to-head racing for the Parallel World Cup title on Thursday. NOKIA World team rider Matthieu Bozzetto from France, defending Parallel Slalom and overall World Cup champion, was already safe for the Parallel globe four weeks prior to the finals while his teammate Nicolas Huet fixed second place only last week. Felix Stadler from Austria, the Swedes Stephen Copp and Richard Richardsson as well as Dieter Krassnig from Austria will be contenders for third place. The women’s champion will only be decided with the last race: France’s Isabelle Blanc needs to finish second to claim the chrystal globe. NOKIA rider Manuela Riegler is the only one who still has a chance to catch up with her. If she won with Blanc finishing maximum third it would be the Austrian to win the World Cup. Third place is pretty much open to a couple of others.
The second decision will be taken on Friday when the Snowboard Cross riders conclude their season. Sweden’s Pontus Stahlkloo and Zeke Steggall from Down Under are the contenders for the globe while Swiss NOKIA team rider Guillaume Nantermod still needs to be considered for second place. Current World Cup leader Carmen Ranigler from Italy would be safe to claim the title if she finished first or second in the final race. France’s Marie Laissus, Manuela Riegler and Germany’s Sandra Farmand will be her strongest rivals for the title.
Two discipline champions and the overall World Cup winners will be determined at the conclusion on Saturday. Giant Slalom is scheduled first with defending champion Stefan Kaltschütz from Austria being safe for first place already. Matthieu Bozzetto, Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson, US rider Christopher J. Klug and Markus Ebner from Germany are the strongest contenders for second place. Defending World Cup champion Margherita Parini from Italy has a fair advantage in the women’s standings but in theory Manuela Riegler still has a small chance to catch up with her while Aasa Windahl from Sweden and France’s Karine Ruby might be able to move up to second place.
Thomas Johansson from Sweden has already won the Halfpipe World Cup but will not be able to compete further to an injury. His teammate Fredrik Sterner who is currently in second place will not be at the start either for the same reason but he still needs to fear being caught by his fellow countrymen Markus Sterner or Marcus Jonsson. NOKIA rider Pasi Voho from Finnland could close the gap for third place. Germany’s Sabine Wehr-Hasler and US rider Tricia Byrnes, both representing the NOKIA World team, are the only ones to be considered for the title in the women’s division. Since Byrnes signed up for the US Open and will not compete in Livigno, the German should be safe to claim the globe.
Matthieu Bozzetto is pretty much safe to defend his title but there is still a theoretic chance for Huet to catch up with him: If Huet won both the Parallel and the Giant Slalom while Bozzetto not making any points it would be him but this would be very likely to happen. In the women’s standings three contenders should make it amongst them: Manuela Riegler, Margherita Parini and Isabelle Blanc.
The conditions at Livigno are pretty nice with cold and some more snow having arrived there last night. The venue is prepared so it is up to the riders now to fight for the trophies.