The first Halfpipe contest of the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup 2006/2007 in Swiss Saas-Fee took place this weekend.
It was a perfect start for the US snowboard team in the Halfpipe season of the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup, as Scott Lago and Gretchen Bleiler provided a double victory for their home country in the first Halfpipe contest of the current World Cup winter. In his first ever World Cup Halfpipe finals, Lago (45.3 points) successfully relegated the 2004 Junior World Champion Markus Malin (FIN, 44.6) and Daisuke Murakami (JPN, 44.3) to the second and third spot only eleven days after his 19th birthday. On the women’s side, the Olympic Silver medallist Bleiler was the measure of all things. 41.0 points were tantamount to the first rank ahead of Soko Yamaoka (JPN, 38.5) and Halfpipe World Cup winner Manuela Laura Pesko (SUI, 37.6).
“This is something really special for me”, said Lago after his first World Cup triumph which he brought home due to two solid runs (both 45.3 points) in the finals. Even adverse weather conditions including light snowfall and cold wind didn’t rattle him. “It’s my first time in Switzerland and I’m looking forward to competing here at the World Championships next January,” he explained.
25-year-old Bleiler was all smiles after her Halfpipe victory in the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup: “It was an amazing day. Although it was freezing cold all girls put it together and showed an awesome performance.”
Manuela Laura Pesko who won the women’s qualification said: “I’m pleased although I couldn’t reach my qualification result. In the first run of the final I didn’t stick my Cab 5 and in the second one I wasn’t that strong any more.” All in all, the 28-year-old rider drew a positive balance: “The third rank is a good start into the season. It shows that I’m in a good shape and on a good riding level. I think it will be a good season for me.”
1. Scott Lago (USA)
2. Markus Malin (FIN)
3. Daisuke Murakami (JPN)
1. Gretchen Bleiler (USA)
2. Soko Yamaoka (JPN)
3. Manuela Laura Pesko (SUI)
Unfortunately, the second Halfpipe contest of the NOKIA Snowboard FIS World Cup in Saas-Fee had to be cancelled this weekend due to strong winds with a speed up to 90 kilometres per hour.