Makomanai/Sapporo (JPN). The weather conditions always changed today in Makomanai where the sixth out of ten Snowboard Cross races as part of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup took place today. Pontus Stahlkloo from Sweden and French rider Karine Ruby won the gold.
After pure sunshine in the morning light snow falls had started right before the beginning of the finals and always increased until the end of the competition. Sweden once again proved its strength with Pontus Stahlkloo winning today’s competition, his first-ever World Cup win. “I’ve been really waiting for this,” he said, “I got second and third and then second again so it was time for a win. The course was nice since it was very technical and I like that technical staff.” NOKIA World Team rider Guillaume Nantermod finished second. “I’m very happy,” the Swiss said, “apart from winning Ischgl I have been second already once before, my goal is to make it to the finals always. This course here was a real boardercross which required a lot of technical skills and this shows much more of the riders’ quality than the one we had in Madonna last week. This is also proved with the result, the top ranked riders are all SBX specials. The weather could have been better but apart from that it was perfect.” Joni Vastamäki from Finland, winner of the season’s first race who had badly crashed at Schönried, Switzerland, just four weeks ago, got third. “It’s good to be back on top,” he said, “but it looks like Pontus, Guillaume and Zeke are getting a too big lead. I am still trying to catch up with them but it’s going to be hard. I missed the race in Madonna which would have been a good one for me since I prefer the flat courses. Today’s was kind of difficult for me, especially those high and fast jumps were hard for me since I’m using hard boots but they are better in the banks, you can go much faster and have more balance.” Sebastien Frank from France finished third.With today’s win Stahlkloo took the lead in the Snowboard Cross World Cup while Zeke Steggall from Down under dropped back to second. He looked strong but then had a crash with Jasey Jay Anderson from Canada in the semi finals and both could not make it up again. Nantermod is still in third.
France’s Karine Ruby has been waiting for a win throughout the season but it never happened so far. After she had stayed away from racing Snowboard Cross last season today’s event was her second competition this year and taking her first gold she proved herself right to pick it up again. “I’m very happy,” she said, “I haven’t done so good in Giant Slalom this year but Snowboard Cross is really fun. When I couldn’t get it going in GS and Slalom I thought I needed to do something to have fun. I was a little scared with all those big jumps which I don’t like but I trained a lot and worked it out.” Carmen Ranigler from Italy, who had finished fourth place two times in a row after her first-ever win four weeks ago, took revenge today and made it to second place. “At the start I said to myself ‘anything but not fourth’,” she said, “and I used by head before attacking anybody so it worked. I think I learned a lot.” The French Marie Laissus and Aurelie Tible took third and fourth.Laissus is further leading the World Cup standings ahead of Ranigler and Germany’s Sandra Farmand who finished tenth today.
The riders head on to Nagano now where Giant Slalom and Halfpipe will be held on the slopes of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.