Huet and Raniger Take Ruka, Finland PGS

Parallel World Cup stays exciting until the very end

Ruka (Finland). It seemed like the day would never end when the last Parallel Giant Slalom of the 2000/2001 Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup was held today at Ruka, just below the Arctic circle at about 900 kilometers north of Helsinki. Nicolas Huet from France and Italy’s Carmen Ranigler claimed the wins.

Snowfall during the night before the competition had caused a delay already for the start of the qualification since the snow had to be removed from the slope and a few course holds were necessary in the finals to get the riders back to the start. Slight snowfall continued all the way through.

French rider Nicolas Huet has been first in the qualification and obviously like the course a lot – except for the second out of two duels against Joni Vastamaki from Finland in the round of 16 he also won every race in the finals. Knocking out Vastamaki, Austria’s Alexander Maier in the quarter finals and Jasey Jay Anderson from Canada in the semi finals Huet faced Sweden’s Richard Richardsson for the final duel. In the first run they were head-to-head in the first part but the French pushed it at the pitch after the first third and took the lead which he kept until the finish. When Richardsson crashed in the second run there was no way for him to make it up and Huet took the win. “I felt very good today,” the French said, “the snow was great and this is the kind of slope I like. I was almost flying in the part after the banana and could make up time there whenever I had lost some in the upper section. On this kind of slope I can really pull it together – I don’t like the flat ones and we had some of those this season but I was happy with my riding on this hill all day long.”

Richard Richardsson has not been happy with what he did in the qualifications but made it to the finals with 14th place however to finally finish second place. “I was riding really bad in the beginning,” he said, “but I was a bit lucky also. I held back a little bit and it wasn’t until the very last run that I finally had a good one but then I crashed…”

Anderson has had a bad crash right before the finish line in the semi final against Huet where he broke his bindings but he managed to fix it before he met French rider Mathieu Bozzetto in the duel for third place. In the first run the Canadian crashed again and was down by the penalty time of 1.35 seconds but although he was ahead in the second run Bozzetto claimed third place finally. “This was a great slope today,” he said, “maybe a bit short but very nice and I like those much better than the flat ones we had in Japan. It was fun riding although it was very cold but I prefer to have such courses and stand the cold than having others in warm and sunny conditions. It was very tiring today also but there’s one more to go tomorrow and then we’re done – I am really looking forward to finish the season.”Anderson pulled fourth. “That crash (in the semi finals) destroyed my equipment so I was having troubles all through the last couple of runs, so I can’t say it was fun for me,” he said, “I just discoverd the broken binding but I didn’t realize that I broke a boot part as well so Mark (Fawcett) was waiting at the bottom and we switched boots. I was lucky since he has the same shoe size and the same binding angle also…”Bozzetto keeps the lead in the Parallel standings ahead of Huet and Richardsson but both could still take it away from Bozzetto in the final Parallel Slalom race tomorrow.

Carmen Ranigler from Italy has been 16th after the qualification but turned it around in the finals by first knocking out France’s Karine Ruby and Margherita Parini, Italy, and then winning over Austria’s Maria Kirchgasser-Pichler in the semi final. In the final duel she beat Anna Kaltiainen from Finland to take her third Parallel win this season. “I didn’t expect this at all since I have been so tired over the last couple of says,” she said, “but I managed to win the first runs in the finals against two strong riders. After that I made some mistakes so it wasn’t easy but I also had a little luck today which didn’t happen so often to me this season.”

Anna Kaltiainen used the opportunity to prove her skills to her home crowd and pulled second, her best result ever. “I’m so happy,” she said, “but I definitely wanted to win today. The people around pushed me a lot, I know this slope, have been riding here a lot and also had the best bib number ever – I never had such an early start. It’s just great.”

Manuela Riegler from Austria went third.

With today’s win Ranigler took the World Cup lead away from Ruby who is in second place now ahead of US rider Rosey Fletcher who badly crashed in the final round of 16 and finished tenth. All three try to claim the chrystal globe in parallel racing with the season’s last Parallel Slalom tomorrow.