SOCHI, Russia — Alessandro Haemmerle and Michela Moioli won snowboard cross World Cup events on Sunday for their first major victories.
Haemmerle led the final heat from the start. He was followed by American Alex Deibolds and fellow Austrian Markus Schairer.
“It’s unbelievable that I won this race. But I guess, I really deserved this win today, although you always need a little bit of luck too,” Haemmerle said. “Winning on the Olympic hill is like setting an example. And of course hopes are high now to do as good as today on this course next year.”
Moioli was a surprise winner in the women’s event. Most of the World Cup leaders were eliminated in early rounds when they failed to finish with snow falling on a long and tough course.
Nelly Moenne Loccoz of France finished second, and Helene Olafsen of Norway took third.
Moioli’s victory was Italy’s second in the history of women’s World Cup snowboard cross. Carmen Ranigler won on Jan 20, 2000, in Schoenried, Switzerland.
The 17-year-old Moioli scored her victory in her third appearance at a World Cup event.
“I’m very happy. This place is fantastic,” she said. “The course has been very good. I love this course.”
It was the first World Cup podium for Deibolds.
“I’m very happy about my first podium. I think it’s pretty appropriate,” he said. “The conditions today made it pretty challenging. . It was pretty tight racing for most of the day. So I would call it a complete race.”
Reigning two-time world champion and World Cup leader Alex Pullin missed the podium when he collided with Pierre Vaultier of France in the final heat. The Australian snowboarder leads the standings with 2,550 points after four of 12 races this season. With his second podium finish this season, Schairer rose to second with 2,300 points. Christopher Robanske of Canada was eliminated in the first round and dropped to third with 1,910 points.
Women’s leader Dominique Maltais missed the podium for the first time this season after she fell midway through the quarterfinals heat. The Canadian leads the standings with 3,000 points after two wins and a second place. After claiming her first podium this season, Moenne Loccoz moved to second place with 2,260 points. She is followed by Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic with 1,860 points.
The competition was the last of the snowboard test events, held this week at the Roza Khutor Extreme Park — a venue for the Sochi Olympics next year. The competitions were marred by mild weather and heavy snowfalls and rains that forced the organizers to cancel the slopestyle and parallel slalom events.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press