World’s best gather in Landgraaf to start World Cup season
Dutch duo Bunschoten and Vos among the star lineup at the season’s first World Cup races11 Nov 2019
By Lena Smirnova | For World Para Snowboard
Six reigning world champions will be on the hunt for the first points of the season when the 2019-20 World Para Snowboard World Cup begins with the banked slalom races in Landgraaf, Netherlands on 13 November.
The two-day competition - held at SnowWorld Landgraaf - will be the first big test for the riders after a seven-month break and an important kick off to the season that runs until April.
Dutch power couple Lisa Bunschoten and Chris Vos, who share six gold medals at World Championships between them, are hoping to give local spectators a lot to cheer about as they take to the home slope at the world’s largest indoor ski resort.
Bunschoten impressed with her dazzling golden streak last season. The 23-year-old ruled the World Cup and World Championships races, sweeping all the Crystal Globes and gold medals in the women’s LL2.
But Bunschoten’s toughest opposition will be at the starting gates in Landgraaf, eager to end her winning streak. Among them are her teammates Renske van Beek and Anne Garttener who also had a share of World Cup podiums in the past and are equally familiar with the venue, which often serves as a training ground for the Dutch national team.
Four-time world champion Vos will likely have an easier time defending his top status in the men’s LL1 competition. The Dutch rider, who won the overall and banked slalom Crystal Globes for the 2018/19 season, looks poised to get a head start on his biggest rival, Noah Elliott of the USA, who is sitting out the competition in Landgraaf.
Although the field in the men’s LL1 will be smaller than usual in Landgraaf, the competition will still be an important one for Vos. He is expected to test out a new leg suspension there, which could impact his results over the rest of the season.
MAX LEADING THE PEOPLE
The competition in Landgraaf will mark the first time in three years that France’s celebrated rider Maxime Montaggioni is able to start a World Cup season.
An injury in 2017 took Montaggioni off the slopes for almost two years. He roared back onto the scene in March 2019 and finished the season with double gold at the World Championships in the men’s UL class. Despite this formidable effort, Montaggioni was still too late to the party to clinch any Crystal Globes - a shortfall he will aim to fix this season.
Italy’s Jacopo Luchini, who took bronze in banked slalom at the World Championships, will be on hand to test Montaggioni’s resolve in Landgraaf. Australia’s Sean Pollard, third overall in banked slalom last season, is also always a threat.
Montaggioni’s teammate Cecile Hernandez, who swept the Crystal Globes in the women’s LL1 last season, will also try to get France off to a good start as she races for gold against China’s rising star Liu Yunhai.
WINDS FROM THE EAST
With Beijing set to host the Paralympic Winter Games in two years, Chinese riders are quickly gaining ground on the world stage, and the World Cup in Landgraaf could become their newest triumph.
Sun Qi and Pang Qiaorong have already made an impression at the Pyha 2019 World Championships where they won gold medals in the men’s LL2 and women’s UL banked slalom, respectively. Fellow Chinese rider Lu Jiangli finished the championships with a silver in the women’s UL banked slalom.
The Chinese athletes will be eager to direct that momentum into the start of the World Cup season. Sun’s path to the podium in Landgraaf lies through Australia’s Ben Tudhope, Great Britain’s Owen Pick and USA’s Zach Miller.
Pang and Lu, meanwhile, will race against Poland’s Monika Kotzian, who was golden in snowboard cross at Pyha 2019 and also took bronze in banked slalom.