Koski and Wehr-Hasler Win Berchtesgaden HP

Berchtesgaden (Germany). Despite spring temperatures over the past couple of days the pipe for the fifth Halfpipe contest of the 2000/2001 Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup in Berchtesgaden was in pretty good shape, especially when it came to the finals which was held at floodlight. Markku Koski from Finland and Germany’s Sabine Wehr-Hasler took the wins.

Spring temperatures have made the snow very soft and although people enjoyed to be around with sunshine and 18 degrees for the qualification everyone was scared that the pipe might suffer too much from the conditions but the organisers did a great job with shaping it and it turned out to be fine for the finals.

Markku Koski from Finland had a great first run already and looked as if he was even pushing for more in the second but then landed on the deck right before the finish line. “It was pretty fun today,” he said, “having spring in February is pretty strange but I don’t mind… I kind of slammed my straight air which was bad but I made it ¿ that’s just great.”

Italy’s Giacomo Kratter went in second place. He was going big in the first run but crashed after his last flip and went in sixth place. Improving his performance in the second run he made it up to second. “I would have liked the pipe to be a little bigger,” he said, “but it was fun riding. After my crash in the first run my head felt strange – a little bit like being drunk but it didn’t hurt too much so I’m fine with second place.

Norwegian rider Jon Odden has been ranked second after the first run but dropped back to third when Kratter pulled it together in the second run. “I landed on the coping in the second run and lost a bit of the speed,” he said. “I tried to get it back but I didn’t. In some parts the pipe was a little bumpy on the walls but it was okay to ride.

Magnus Sterner from Sweden looked as if he would have liked the pipe to be a bit longer in the first run and was in fifth place after that. When he crashed half way down the pipe in the second run there was no means for him to make it up again and he finally ended up eighth but still keeps the lead in the World Cup standings. His teammate Stefan Karlsson, fifth today, remains in second ahead of Brett Carpentier from Canada who just missed the finals and finished 11th.

The Berchtesgaden Halfpipe fits Germany’s Sabine Wehr-Hasler a lot. The 2000 Halfpipe World Cup champion had won last year’s contest there and also claimed the gold today with two solid runs in the finals. “This really is my pipe,” she said, relieved, “after quite a time I had fun riding again today. With those temperatures the conditions were pretty difficult but they showed that it’s possible to put a good pipe in place however. Also, I tried to keep my hands off the wall during the flip at the end which has caused some trouble for me in the qualifications. I’m glad I worked it out.”

Alessandra Pescosta from Italy, third after the first run, was the only one of the six female finalists to increase her score with the second run and finally went in second place. “I just said to myself that there was nothing to lose after the first run,” she said. “I was pretty nervous but could improve by almost two points which was enough to get there. The pipe was a bit soft but it has a good transition.

Japanese rider Yuri Yoshikawa had a solid first run for second place but seemed a bit shaky in the second run and finally claimed third place today. “My first run was okay,” she said, “but then I changed my tricks a bit in the second run and had some problems with the McTwist so third place is fine for me.”

Stine Brun Kjeldaas from Norway who did not enter the Berchtesgaden event is still leading the standings ahead of Japan’s Michiyo Hashimoto. Sabine Wehr-Hasler moved up to third.

Head-to-head duels in Parallel Slalom will be next tomorrow, a second Halfpipe is scheduled for Saturday.