Tignes (France). With the season’s second Parallel Giant Slalom the qualification for the 2002 Olympic Games was continued at Tignes, France – the second stop of the 2001/2002 Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup. Stefan Kaltschuetz and Doris Guenther made it an Austrian double.
The pressure was on most of the riders who entered today’s Parallel Giant Slalom since they still need to confirm their tickets to the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. Austria’s Stefan Kaltschuetz, usually not known for his parallel riding than he is for his Giant Slalom racing, had finished eighth in the qualification. In the finals he looked as if there was no one to stop him. He made his way through the finals by beating US rider Jeff Greenwood, knocking out Jasey Jay Anderson from Canada and then winning over France’s Mathieu Bozzetto to face Dejan Kosir in the final duel. There he got the first run under his belt, 80 hundrets of a second ahead of the Slovenian. In the second run, Kosir tried hard but then made a mistake and Kaltschuetz won with a total margin of 1.37 seconds. “A little bit of luck is always needed,” he said, “but I was training hard in summer, especially focussing on parallel racing, and it looks as if it paid off. This was an important result for me but the ones to come will even be more important. It’s going to be hard with regard to the qualification for the Olympics since Austria has a bunch of riders who have the chance to make it there. I still need to be more consistent and focus on my riding, even when my oponents make mistakes – you can never take it easy, you have to make your line from start to finish.”
Kosir went second but was happy with the result: “This is incredible,” he said, “I was suffering from a stomach infection last night so I even didn’t know if I was able to come up here for the race. I was glad when I made it to the finals, being second is just great. I was fighting so much in every duel since I lacked power and could not put anything into my final runs anymore. I’m glad to be second and keep the yellow bib.”
Mathieu Bozzetto faced Austria’s Harald Walder in the small final for third place. Walder, who had knocked out the 2001 PGS World Champion Gilles Jaquet from Switzerland in the quarter finals, set the pace with 60 hundrets of a second in the first run but finally had to leave it with the French who turned it around in the second run. “I’m more than happy,” Bozzetto said, “I had a herniated disk about a month ago and I could have taken months to recover from that, so I watched out a lot. My best results last year was third so I’m happy with such a result at the beginning of the season.”
Kosir is further leading the World Cup standings ahead of Kaltschuetz and Bozzetto.
Austria’s Doris Guenther made it a surprise win in the womens’ race. She had finished tenth in the qualification and then looked as she was getting stronger from heat to heat. She first knocked out Italy’s Marion Posch, then won over the 2001 PGS World Champion Ursula Bruhin from Switzerland and Swiss rider Steffi von Siebenthal to finally face Isabelle Blanc from France in the final heat. When Blanc crashed in the first run Guenther had the lead by 1.98 seconds and it already looked as if she might be able to take the win. She was also leading out of the start gate in the second run but Blanc pushed hard and finally managed to cross the finish line ahead of the Austrian. When Guenther got there she was still 22 hundrets ahead of the French and claimed her first World Cup win ever. “I kind of took it easy since I felt very safe on the board today,” the 22-year-old said, “I knew I was fast if I could get it down to the line so I kept trying. It was good luck that my opponents made some mistakes occasionally but that’s also part of parallel racing. I was pushing hard and maybe this has put pressure on them. When I had made it to the quarter finals I reached one of my goals and took it as a bonus whenever I advanced any further. My training has been perfect in fall, we also have a new coach, and I’m using new material so all that contributed to this success.”
Blanc liked to be second but certainly would have loved to win. “I had a perfect second run against Doris,” she said, “I felt very good also since I have changed my attitude towards the sport and the competition a lot. For me it was very important to get confidence today, especially with regard to the Olympics, and it’s going to be the same in the next races. I got a lot of confidence in the runs today and it’s good to be on the podium – this proofs that I need to be considered. I was glad I made up so much time in the second run. Maybe the semi final against Karine Ruby has taken too much energy to finally win.” France’s Karine Ruby went third by beating Steffi von Siebenthal in the small final.
The latter mentioned is further leading the standings ahead of Blanc and German rider Heidi Renoth who finished 11th today.
Parallel Giant Slalom is scheduled for tomorrow, the next Snowboard Cross will take place on 06 December in Whistler, Canada.