It’s a triple podium for Australia’s Para Snowboard team and the first gold and silver World Cup medals in the Audi quattro Winter Games NZ World Para Snowboard Cup.
Chilly conditions the night before froze the banked slalom course, making it bullet proof on a run known as ‘Bullet’. Lu Prem, Para Snowboard Coach described the course as “by far the most technical banked slalom we have seen on the Para Snowboard World Cup tour”.
But that wasn’t enough to intimidate the Australian athletes though, each showing great performances in their first World cup races for the season, and debut World Cup races for Sean Pollard.
The women were the first to take on the steep course with the Women’s SB-LL2 where yesterday’s winner in the Southern Hemisphere Cup, Aussie Joany Badenhorst once again took gold in 1:10.52. She was followed by Cassie Cava (Great Britian) in 1:18.52 and Brittani Coury (USA) in a time of 1:20.68.
Badenhorst said, “The course is pretty amazing. It is really challenging and quite difficult, making the riders put their best ride forward. I have been snowboarding for going on four years, with back to back seasons since Sochi 2014 and I have seen a lot of courses. There has been so much work put into this course by the designers and they have nailed it.”
The first men down the mountain were the Men’s SB-UL classification where Michael Minor (USA) won gold in a time of 1:08.04, followed by Aussie Simon Patmore winning silver in 1:08.66 and bronze to Zhuo Chen (China) in 1:09.15.
“Simon was in striking distance of Mike Minor in the second run and almost pulled off a clean run three, but missed out on top spot by just over 0.6 of a second. Still things to work on but the direction is right and with a clean run anything is possible.” Coach Prem said.
The Men’s SB-LL2 was hotly contested with the lead changing several times between Michael Shea (USA) and Aussie Ben Tudhope.
Shea came out on top with his final run of 59.00 with Tudhope taking silver and his first podium in 59.28. Pushing the two leaders all the way was Wanaka local Carl Murphy (New Zealand) in third 1:01.21.
“Ben was the guy to beat today” said Prem.
“He held the lead in the first two runs, had a great run in the third run but risked a bit too much and got pipped by Shea but was almost two seconds ahead Murphy. All the technical training is starting to show.”
Also showing good performances, Sean Pollard making his debut World Cup and coming sixth, and Alex Handley in eighth.
Another week of training for the team in New Zealand to put the finishing touches on banked slalom technique after a great block of Snowboard Cross training at Mt Hotham over the Australian winter season.