Finland and France up on top in Kaprun Austria

Kaprun (AUT). Third stage of the 1999/2000 NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup with the season’s first Snowboard Cross race on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier in Kaprun, Austria. Joni Vastamäki from Finland and French woman Marie Laissus won and will wear the yellow SBX World Cup leader bib at the consecutive stage.

Despite strong winds, especially during the qualifications, caused some trouble in setting up the course early in the morning but the conditions constantly improved and the race finally happened as scheduled. The course, built by Austrian Alex Hoeller, featured 14 obstacles with bumps, steep turns and a big jump right before the finish line. A new system was used for the first time in the World Cup today: The top ranked riders in both the men’s and the women’s competition could choose the start gate for those riders with the lowest bib numbers in each final heat.Joni Vastamöki was the first to cross the finish line in the final heat and he was probably the one being mostly surprised about this win: “I’ve never won a World Cup, so this is just great,” he said. “My major disciplines are GS and Slalom but my friends and I decided that we liked to have some fun and just did it. I was a little scared since I had a really bad crash two years ago in this discipline which resulted in a big injury and that’s why I stopped it. Today, the only choice I had was trying to be ahead of all others to have the choice for the line and prevent from crashing.” Despite today’s win Vastamöki should not expected to be seen in every SBX race since he still likes to focus on the alpine disciplines. Pontus Stahlkloo from Sweden finshed second ahead of Frenchman Romain Borrel and Alexander Koller from Austria.

French Double in the women’s race with Marie Laissus finishing first (her first-ever win) and reigning World Champion Julie Pomagalski taking second place. For the two friends it was a perfect day since they use to spend a lot of time together and to share the podium for both was just great: “That’s unbelievable,” Laissus said, “it’s just great to start like this into a season. We had really hard conditions this morning but it was all right in the finals. The course was great, not too hard and really fun to do.” Alessandra Pescosta from Italy finished third, her second-ever podium, ahead of Japanese rider Yoko Miyake.

In Kaprun, the extended prize money contributes a lot to the riders’ motivation: At each of the three scheduled races the men fight for a total of SFr. 30,000 while the women are awarded a total of SFr. 20,000 per discipline.

The season’s second Parallel Slalom will be on tomorrow, while Parallel Slalom is scheduled for Sunday.