Madonna di Campiglio (ITA). While most of the participants of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup are taking a week off before they leave for the next stage in Japan, another race is scheduled for the Snowboard Cross riders at Madonna di Campiglio tomorrow. The well known Italian ski resort in the Trentino region already hosted a FIS World Cup competition last season and will be the venue of the fourth FIS Snowboard World Championships in 2001. A good opportunity though for those taking part in tomorrow’s Snowboard Cross race to check out the site and make a rehearsal for next year when they will compete for gold, silver and bronze on the “5-laghi” slope.

After five of a total of ten races Pontus Stahlkloo is leading the Snowboard Cross World Cup standings. The Swede claimed two second places, one third and a ninth rank so far and for sure belongs to the contenders for a podium also at Madonna. Swiss rider Guillaume Nantermod takes second place in the World Cup after he had claimed his first-ever World Cup win last weekend in Ischgl, Austria. Last year’s Snowboard Cross World Cup champion Sylvian Duclos from France already got two wins under his belt this season but missed the last two races and dropped back to third place in the standings. Amongst other contenders, Zeke Stegall from Downunder as well as Austria’s Alexander Koller also need to be considered for a top rank.

Marie Laissus from France is leading the womens’ standings right now but last year’s Snowboard Cross World Cup champion Ursula Fingerlos from Austria claimed two World Cup victories recently after a bad start into the season and moved up to second place already. Reigning World champion Julie Pomagalski is currently in third. Beside the top three there is especially one female rider to be considered for a podium at Madonna: Italy’s Carmen Ranigler always finished among the top ten this season and also added a win to her scores already. The 23-year-old Bolzano native recently joined the group of top riders this year when she did not fear to take some risk and just attacked the leading women once she had made it to the final heats. Only a crash made her drop back to fourth place in Ischgl last weekend after she had been leading the final heat. “I’ve just taken too much risk,” the Italian had said, “maybe I should have better looked back to see that the others were obviously quite a ways behind me and that I was safe for the lead but that’s an experience also and I will definitely make use of it next time…” She will have the chance to prove that tomorrow and might have a little advantage also racing in front of her home crowd. We’ll see.

The weather forecast is pretty good. The qualification will start at 10h30, the finals are scheduled for 13h00.