Pyha made history on Friday (30 November) as the World Cup kicked off with the first four-way snowboard-cross race. To make things even better for the Finns, the first winner was local hero Matti Suur-Hamari.
The 32-year-old was followed by Australia’s Ben Tudhope in second, USA’s Keith Gabel in third and Canada’s Alex Massie in fourth in the men’s SB-LL2 final.
“First time in a four race, it was super exciting. I’m super happy I got my first snowboard cross World Cup win. The weather was pretty challenging, the course is soft but still it was a really good race,” Suur-Hamari said.
“I want to do the same results tomorrow, now I just need to eat and rest for the next race.”
For Suur-Hamari, it also meant the first World Cup victory this season following two banked slalom second places in Landgraaf, Netherlands.
In the men’s SB-LL1, USA’s PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic champion Mike Schultz stopped the Netherlands’ Chris Vos unbeaten run to win his first World Cup this season.
Vos had won the first four World Cup events he competed in this season in Dubai, UAE, and Landgraaf, both in banked slalom.
USA’s Noah Elliott took the bronze medal in Pyha beating Austria’s Reinhold Schett.
More gold for Bunschoten
There was more USA gold in the men’s SB-ULL with two-time Paralympic medallist Mike Minor. It was the season opener for the “Bowl Troll” who beat Australia’s Simon Patmore in the final.
Italy’s Jacopo Luchini won the bronze medal race against Austria’s Patrick Mayrhofer.
The women’s SB-LL2 final counted with two PyeongChang 2018 medallists. The Netherlands’ Lisa Bunschoten beat Spain’s Astrid Fina to clinch her fourth World Cup gold this season.
In an all-Dutch bronze medal race, Anne Garttener finished ahead of Renske van Beek.
The World Cup finishes on Saturday (1 December) but riders will return to Pyha in March when the city hosts the 2019 Para Snowboard World Championships.