Ebner and Fletcher win Parallel Slalom in Bad Gastein

Bad Gastein (Austria). With the season’s fourth Parallel Slalom the 2000/2001 Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup was continued at Bad Gastein, Austria, today. Markus Ebner from Germany and US rider Rosey Fletcher took the wins in a thrilling race.

An amazing crowd of more than 5,000 people had lined up at the slope tonight when the top 16 men and women from the qualification in the afternoon raced their head-to-head duels in the finals, carried out at floodlight. It looked as if the pressure was off the riders in this first competition after the World Championships and despite heavy snowfall throughout the race they obviously enjoyed it a lot.Markus Ebner from Germany has been 14th after the qualifications only but he turned it around in the finals and looked really strong from the very beginning. Winning both runs agains Swiss rider Philipp Schoch in the round of 16 he met World Champion and current World Cup leader Nicolas Huet from France in the quarter finals. In the first run he took the lead with seven hundrets of a second and being slightly behind the French in the second run Ebner started to attack. An interference with a gate keeper caused a crash and the jury decided to get the two a rerun. With a total time difference of 17 hundrets of a second the German finally advanced to the semi finals where he knocked out Sweden’s Richard Richardsson to face Felix Stadler from Austria in the final heat. Stadler made a mistake in the first run and was behind by the penalty time of 1.06 seconds. Although winning the second run he could not close the gap and Ebner claimed his first World Cup victory this season. “There was a revenge pending against Nicolas,” the German said, “so I was glad that I pulled it together this time. It was so much fun racing at floodlight and in front of this cheering crowd so I was extremely motivated. The slope was perfectly perpared, there have been people side slipping it all the time ¿ it was just great and I don’t think we had any better World Cup so far this season.”

Felix Stadler took second place and was happy too: “The podium, finally, that’s just great,” he said, “I definitely wanted to win this race but I was lucky in the semi finals already and was missing the little peace of luck in the finals then. You could see the pressure being off after the World Championships but they just did a perfect job over here. I wish we had more races of this kind ¿ it was just great with this atmosphere. Hopefully we will come back here for a race soon.”

France’s Mathieu Bozzetto met Richard Richardsson in the small final for third place and finally got third place today. “I’m glad I made it there today,” the French said, “it has been kind of a disaster for me at the previous races and the World Championships. I didn’t have fun racing anymore since I lost my motivation and also felt like that this morning. The snow was very hard but they were working hard ¿ I’m so glad that I made it to third place.” Richardsson ended up fourth place finally.

Nicolas Huet finished fifth but he kept the lead in the Parallel World Cup standings ahead of Slovenia’s Dejan Kosir who didn’t qualify for the finals today and Bozzetto. Ebner moved up to fourth overall.

US rider Rosey Fletcher claimed the win in the womens’ race. “This was awesome,” she said, “Bad Gastein has been one of the best stops we had with the crowd, the lights and the snow it was just great. After the qualifiers I was a bit cautious and went back to my hotel, got all myaggression in fire so I just had a mission to come back and win. When I got here again it was ‘gotime’. Dropping out in the first round at the World Championships I was so angry about that and had some adamption to do so this was it…”

Nina Schlegel from Austria had eliminated World Champion Karine Ruby from France in the semi finals and finally took second after losing both runs in the final duel to Fletcher. “This was perfectly organised, I liked the course a lot annd racing in front of my home crowd did the rest,” she said. “We were pushed from start to finish and this motivated a lot. When I had to race against Karine I tried to regard her as just anybody ¿ the last three times I met her in a parallel race I always lost it to her so I didn’t want this to happen again today so I was right to drop the respect…”

Isabelle Blanc from France made the small final for third place against Ruby a little revenge for the World Championships when Ruby claimed the gold two times while Blanc ended up second. Today it was her to make it to the podium and sending Ruby to fourth. “I had some difficulties to get the rhythm today,” Blanc said. “I had my best runs against Karine today and try to find out why I need her to ride well. Before I didn’t manage to push the limits and I don’t know why ¿ I felt good and was convinced that I could make it to the finals but it always took me some time to get used to the riding so I’m glad that I made it to third place.”Ruby finally finished fourth and is still leading the standings ahead of Fletcher and Italy’s Carmen Ranigler who was knocked out by Fletcher in the quarter finals today.

The World Cup heads on to Munich, Germany, now where the next Parallel Slalom is scheduled for Friday (qualification) and Saturday (finals).