“It feels pretty amazing to be World Champion in my second year competing, I’m so stoked,”
Finnish snowboarder Matti Suur-Hamari is on top of the world after taking a win over the USA’a Sochi 2014 Paralympic champion Evan Strong in the men's SB-LL2 snowboard-cross, and is now focusing on Saturday’s (28 February) banked slalom.
“It feels pretty amazing to be World Champion in my second year competing, I’m so stoked,” Suur-Hamari said.
The result, which could be described by some as a surprise, did not come as much of a shock to the Fin.
“Training was really good and the course was just perfect for me, my board was good and everything was just perfect. I had a strong feeling from the begging of the race that I would be in the top riders,” he said.
“We had a little celebration, but of course I had to get ready for the banked slalom on Saturday, so it was only a small party” added Suur-Hamari, who has trained with Finland's able-bodied snowboard-cross team.
Looking towards Saturday, the left-leg amputee seems very relaxed about the prospect of becoming double world champion: “I’m really confident going into the banked slalom and it would be amazing to come out of these Championships with two gold medals, but I don’t feel any pressure, I just want to have fun.”
The Fin however does have another motivation to win both races: “There are a couple of guys from Scandinavia competing now, last year I was the only one. But I am still the only guy from Finland and I really want to encourage riders from Scandinavia to compete in snowboarding.”
Suur-Hamari, who started high-performance para-snowboarding in 2012, hopes his rapid rise up the ranks shows just what can be achieved, inspiring a new generation of riders to take up the sport and join him on the road to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games.
“We need more people to watch our sport and we need more competitors,” he said. “The sport is growing up fast, it will be a way different sport before PyeongChang.”
Banked slalom is currently scheduled to take place on Saturday (28 February), depending on the weather conditions in La Molina, with 42 riders from 18 countries set to compete.
Live coverage can be found at the La Molina website as well as on IPC Alpine Skiing’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.