Success for Russia and Czech Republic at Junior World Championships snowboard cross
LAKE WANAKA, New Zealand (August 22, 2010) - A technical snowboard cross course of significant magnitude greeted 66 of the world's elite junior riders today in day two of the FIS Snowboard&Freestyle Junior World Championships.
The course's two large hips and long fly-over table were particularly challenging for the young riders, as was the whoops section which caused many competitors to loose their rhythm while others used the feature to gain speed and propel them towards the finish line.
One such rider was Maximillian Stark (19) of Germany who recorded the fastest qualifying time in 1:07:26. However, it was Nikolay Olyunin (19) of Russia who took the world championship title having qualified with second fastest time. The final was a close run race and he narrowly missed being taken out by Joachim Havikhagen (18) of Norway on the second hip. However, he picked up speed through the lower berms and whoops to comfortably take the title ahead of Americans Roger Carver (20, Placerville, Cali.) and Alex Tuttle (19, Stratton, Maine).
"It's fantastic being world champion," said Olyunin. "I was very nervous and the visibility was bad but it's an amazing feeling. I just wish I wasn't so far from home so I could celebrate with my parents."
Eva Samkova (17) from the Czech Republic led the women's field into the elimination heats in 1:14:04 and it was sheer tenacity that saw her take victory and the world championship title. For most of the final run she was racing in second to the USA's Faye Gulini (18, Salt Lake City, Utah). However on the last bank Gulini made a mistake and Samkova saw her chance, overtaking and taking the win and leavinf Gulini the silver. Switzerland's Emilie Aubry took third ahead of Canadian Ziggy Cowan in fourth.
Three more Americans filled the top seven as Jaqueline Hernandez Celine Valentin, and Jenna Feldman finished five, six, seven.
"This is fantastic!" said Samkova. "I really didn't expect this, that I would be world champion. It was a very close race and I'm just so happy!"
The Junior World Championship action continues tomorrow at Snow Park NZ with the first freestyle ski slopestyle in a FIS World Championship. Qualification starts at 9.30am with finals scheduled for 1.00pm. For further information, visit www.juniorworldsnz.co.nz.
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Image: Eva Samkova (second from right) on way to victory in heats of snowboard cross (Bel Jones)