Schönried/Gstaad (SUI). Perfect conditions again for those riders who took part in today’s Giant Slalom as part of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup in Schönried/Gstaad, Switzerland. Stephen Copp from Sweden and US rider Sondra van Ert took the gold in an exciting race.

After snow fell last night, the sky cleared up at Schönried and sunshine came out in time for the Giant Slalom which was held on the “Horneggli” slope today.

Stephen Copp from Sweden who had already added a couple of good results in parallel racing this season surprised most by taking the gold. He had finished sixth in the first run and repeated his strong performance in the second also. “It was so good for me,” he said, “because I never had two really good runs in GS for the last five years and I’m really happy that I worked it out today. I think I’m always smooth and that maybe was my big advantage today because the slope was a bit tricky, especially in the first part, so you needed to ride smoothly and at the same time go as fast as possible.”

NOKIA team rider Matthieu Bozzetto from France and Austria’s Felix Stadler were tied with the same total time and thus shared the second place. “The snow was a bit hard at the start,” Bozzetto said, “maybe I started a little too aggressive, made a mistake and lost some time there. When I arrived at the finish I wasn’t really happy with my run but it finally turned out to be sufficiant for second place…”

Stadler: “I would love to go first place once, but I’m happy with second also. Being tied with Bozzetto is something special since he was so strong in the previous races.”

Apart from being ranked in first place in the Parallel World Cup and the Overall, Bozzetto is now also leading the GS standings. Stefan Kaltschütz from Austria, who badly crashed in yesterday’s training and had to leave home is in second now ahead of Stephen Copp.

Winning the womens’ race Sondra van Ert could repeat the result which she had already captured in Schönried in 1999. “Even last year before I won here,” she said, “I fell in love with this slope. It’s such a great GS run with a little bit of everything, pretty long. It’s just like a good test but so fine because the snow and everything is just perfect.”

Olympic GS gold medallist Karine Ruby from France finished second and seems to be on the way up again after missing good results at the beginning of the season. “I’m happy that it’s getting better now,” she said, “I just started to take things like they are, don’t ask myself too many questions why good results are missing, just taking it a bit more relaxed and this seems to be the right way…”

German Sandra Farmand finished third. “I made a mistake at the top of the second run,” she said, “and this really woke me up. I’ve been really motivated anyway since I had bib number one and the slope was fine for me. I’m really happy since I’m not a GS specialist…”

With today’s win van Ert took the lead in the GS World Cup standings. Aasa Windahl from Sweden, who was in first before and finished tenth today only, dropped back to second ahead of Ruby.

The season’s fourth Snowboard Cross race is scheduled for tomorrow.