Valle Nevado (Chile). The riders faced perfect conditions when the first Halfpipe contest of the 2001/2002 Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup was held today at Valle Nevado, Chile. Spanish rider Iker Fernandez and Kjersti Buaas from Norway took the wins.

Saint Peter must be a snowboarder ¿ no single cloud was seen today during the season’s first Halfpipe event and pure sunshine together with spring temperatures made everyone really enjoy the competition. As Valle Nevado marks the last World Cup before the Olympic quota selection in the beginning of November, a lot of athletes used the opportunity to compete for country quota spots for their nations.

Iker Fernandez from Spain has made it to the finals with a tenth place in the qualification so he was the first at the start in the finals. With an amazing first run Fernandez claimed a score of 41.0 points and none of his rivals was able to close the gap, so the Spanish finally got his first-ever World Cup win under his belt. “I guess this was my day,” he said, “I competed many times but never had this piece of luck which you need for a win. In the second run I wanted to go even bigger but then only got another clean run down. The pipe was great, there were some little holes at the end of the day because it was pretty warm but otherwise it was fine. First, I didn’t like to come here ¿ I’d preferred to stay home since it’s summer there now but now I’m glad I came. With this result I can focus on training for the Olympics now.”

Markus Jonsson from Sweden was close behind Fernandez after the first run but could not make it up to him. “The start of the season has always been pretty slow for me,” Jonsson said, “so this is pretty new for me. When I went to bed last night I promised myself to get on the podium and obviously I did. The snow became more slushy in the second run so everyone got slower: Iker did a really good run ¿ he definitely deserves the win.”

Jonas Emery from Switzerland finished third place.

German rider Nicola Thost has been in first place after the qualification but finally had to leave it with Kjersti Buaas from Norway who claimed the better score in both the first and second final run in the finals. “It’s perfect to start the season with a first place,” Buaas said, “this might give me more self-confidence to even do better in the season. I didn’t practise the Frontside Flip at all today but then I was thinking maybe I should try. I just did it and it worked.”

Thost, however, claimed valuable points with finishing second. The reigning Olympic champion still has to fight for an additional German quota spot in the womens’ Halfpipe since she wasn’t competing at all last season due to an injury. “It was a lot of pressure on me and I’m glad it’s over,” she said. “During the runs you just try to give your best and do not think about all the other staff but it was not easy since you need routine and that’s what I was missing after two years without competing. I’m happy about how it worked.”

Thost still needs to compete in a Continental Cup to secure the German Federation a second Halfpipe spot at the 2002 Olympics. “I’m pretty confident that I will work it out,” she said.Olympic Silver medalist Stine Brun Kjeldaas from Norway turned third and was satisfied. “I was having a lot of fun in the pipe today,” she said, “and I was really happy for Kjersti ¿ I almost couldn’t concentrate anymore. My main goal today was to keep the Olympic spot for Norway. I don’t feel like I’m actually starting the season since there will be a lot of training left but it was good to check the level compared to the others.”

The Parallel Giant Slalom, second Olympic discipline, is scheduled for tomorrow.

NOKIA SNOWBOARD FIS WORLD CUP
Presented by D2 Vodaphone
Valle Nevado, CHI – Sept. 7th, 2001
Half-Pipe – Final Ranking Men
Final
1. 10 FERNANDEZ Iker SPA
2. 8 JONSSON Markus SWE
3. 22 EMERY Jonas SUI
4. 18 THOMAS Jarret USA
5. 199 BOWER Ricky USA
6. 16 ANDREW Trevor CAN
7. 36 DILLON Keir USA
8. 11 STERNER Magnus SWE
9. 2 KRATTER Giacomo ITA
10. 32 CHASTAGNOL Guillaume FRA

Qualification 2
11. 14 JOHANSSON Thomas SWE
12. 15 POWERS Ross USA
13. 21 COSTANDACHE Daniel SUI
14. 20 WYNEN Luke USA
15. 17 LUEPS Vinzenz GER
16. 6 OJALA Tuomo FIN
17. 27 LE GUENNEC Brice FRA
18. 7 MICHALCHUCK Michael CAN

Half-Pipe – Final Ranking Women

1. 13 BUAAS Kjersti NOR
2. 30 THOST Nicola GER
3. 11 KJELDAAS Stine B. NOR
4. 15 GLAZIER Lori CAN
5. 8 THORESEN Christel NOR
6. 27 LIGOCKA Paulina POL

Qualification 2
7. 14 WEHR-HASLER Sabine GER
8. 1 PEDERZOLLI Nicola AUT
9. 5 HELLMAN Anna SWE
10. 22 CHRISTY Barrett USA
11. 31 ROTH Daniela SUI
12. 21 TSCHARNER Martina SUI
13. 18 BOURDIER Valerie FRA
14. 2 PESCOSTA Alessandra ITA
15. 9 MORI Nagako JPN