Snowboard World Cups: The story so far20.11.2018
Takeaways from season-openers in Dubai and Landgraaf
The World Para Snowboard season got off to a sizzling start with two World Cups in November. Before the circuit continues on 30 November in Pyha, Finland, here is a look back at the key moments from Dubai, UAE, and Landgraaf, Netherlands:
Sand and snow do mix well
History was made when Dubai hosted its first World Cup. The first ski resort in the Middle East, Ski Dubai, welcomed 36 athletes from 13 countries.
The two-day banked slalom event served as the first competition for many top riders since the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
China’s new champion
China were one of the big winners of the opening two World Cups, with Sun Qi leading the way. The 19-year-old first took a silver medal in Dubai, before completely dominating the men’s banked slalom SB-LL2 in Landgraaf. He not only clocked the fastest time among all riders on day one but went even faster the following day on his way to a stunning double gold.
Sean Pollard's maiden World Cup podium came in Dubai. The 27-year-old Australian began with a bronze medal, before stepping up to take his first gold on the circuit in the men’s SB-UL. He followed that up with two more bronze medals in Landgraaf.
Like Pollard, Ben Tudhope also celebrated his first wins at a World Para Snowboard World Cup. The 18-year-old has been competing since the 2014/2015 season and won both men's banked slalom SB-LL2 races in Dubai.
Four for Vos
The Netherlands’ Chris Vos dominated the men’s SB-LL1 events, sweeping all four of his races. Perhaps the 20-year-old has something to prove after just missing out on the Paralympic podium in PyeongChang.
Multi-Paralympic and world champion Bibian Mentel-Spee might be retired, but her next in line, Lisa Bunschoten, has so far ensured the Netherlands’ dominance of the women’s SB-LL2 continues. She won three of her four World Cup races in Dubai and Landgraaf, while there were also podium finishes for compatriots Renske van Beek and Anne Garttener. It looks like the Dutch will remain a force to be reckoned with, even without the legendary Mentel-Spee.
Women to watch
The women’s SB-UL might not be on the Paralympic programme, but the category is gaining momentum. China’s Lu Jiangli and Pang Qiaorong traded the top spots in Dubai and Landgraaf but can expect tougher tests in upcoming World Cups.