Berchtesgaden (GER). The participants of the seventh stage of the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup faced nice conditions with pure sunshine today at Berchtesgaden. Christopher Klug and Sondra van Ert made it a US double.

An early start was scheduled for the qualification of today’s third Parallel Giant Slalom since it was the first time this season that in both the mens’ and the womens’ competition 16 riders out of a total of 144 competitors of 25 nations could enter the finals.

Once the two World Cup leaders, Matthieu Bozzetto and Nicolas Huet from France had dropped early and couldn’t make it to the semi finals, the door was open for others and US rider Chris Klug was the one who managed to grab the gold after exciting head-to-head duels throughout the finals.

“The dual is always tricky,” Klug said. “Once you get to the final anything could happen to the top 16. They all have the chance to win. The key is you just got to have some experience once you know who you’re going against and you definitely need some strategy… If you’re riding consistantly and don’t make a lot of mistakes there’s always the chance to win. Some made mistakes when riding against me and this certainly helped because it took a little pressure off.”

Stephen Copp from Sweden almost had the win in his hand being ahead of Klug in the first final run but then Klug turned it around in the second and won by just two hundreds of a second.

The duel for third place was an Austrian one with Felix Stadler and Werner Ebenbauer. Beating his teammate in both final runs, Stadler managed to get his first-ever podium under his belt. “This was my best-ever result in a parallel race,” he said. “The Austrians team is pretty strong and once any of our top favourites drops out there’s others taking their chance and this is probably the secret of our success. I hope I can keep on like that and make it to the very top once.”

Copp’s second place was sufficiant to take over the World Cup lead today while Huet is in second position right now ahead of Bozzetto.

Sondra van Ert completed the US double by beating Austria’s Manuela Riegler in the finals. “Parallel is always tough with so many runs,” Van Ert said. “It was the first time I made it to the finals, I’m pretty excited… It’s disappointing to not have had Rosey (Fletcher) up there as well this time but with Chris (Klug) winning that was a great day for the Americans.”

Berchtesgaden native Heidi Renoth faced Marion Posch from Italy, who raced her 100th World Cup today, in the round for third place but did not manage to beat her to make it to the podium. Renoth: “This is my best parallel result this year but I really hoped to make it to top three. I’m fine with fourth but being on the podium is something different and I just missed it. I just made a couple of mistakes towards the end and by this left it to others.”

Isabelle Blanc from France finished sixth today and by this is further leading the Parallel standings ahead of Riegler and Italy’s Margerita Parini who was in fifth position today.

Results
1. Chris Klug, Aspen, CO
2. Stephen Copp, SWE
3. Felix Stradler, AUT
4. Werner Ebenbauer, AUT
5. Elmar Messner, ITA
6. Stefan Kaltschuetz, AUT
7. Walter Feichter, ITA
8. Richard Ricardsson, SWE
9. Mathias Behounek, GER
10. Mark Fawcett, CAN

Women
1. Sondra Van Ert, Ketchum, ID
2. Manuela Riegler, AUT
3. Marion Posch, ITA
4. Heidi Renoth, GER
5. Margherita Parini, ITA
6. Isabelle Blanc, FRA
7. Karine Ruby, FRA
8. Rosey Fletcher, Girdwood, AK
9. Sandra Farmand, GER
10. Aasa Windahl, SWE

Other U.S. riders
18. Erin O’Malley, Mammoth Lakes, CA
23. Stacia Hookum, Edwards, CO

DNF Lisa Kosglow, Boise, IDDQ Elisabeth Odynski, USA