Loccoz and Haemmerle win Montafon in photo finishes
The season's first FIS World Cup snowboard cross race in Montafon (AUT) lived up to expectations delivering great passes, tight manoeuvers and plenty of exciting photo finish decisions.
Two photo finshes took place in the ladies' and men's finals with World Cup title defender Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA) and local favourite Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) taking the win by a nose.
The 25-year-old French rider stole the victory on the home stretch edging off Lindsey Jacobellis (USA).
The four-time world champion had taken over the lead from quick starter Moenne Loccoz thanks to her great leg work in the first roller section but didn't expect her rival to come back that fast.
Mariya Vasiltsova (RUS) celebrated a perfect World Cup debut taking home third, while Zoe Bergermann (CAN) had to settle for fourth after she made a mistake during the ladies' final.
“I knew that I could be first. Lindsey [Jacobellis] and me very close over the whole final run, and I knew I could push it a little bit more before the finish. I already love my yellow bib and I hope to keep it for the rest of the season,” said Moenne Loccoz.
Jacobellis added: “I wasn't sure about the results crossing the finish line because Nelly [Moenne Loccoz] and I have been battling all day long and had some close calls.
This course collects everyone at the bottom to make a very close finish every time. In general, I like the course very much because it's fun and flows very well but at the same time is very safe.”
In the men's event, Haemmerle led an red-white-red 1-2 punch with Markus Schairer in second making the enthusiastic home crowd go wild thanks to a fantastic passing manoeuvre right before the finish line.
'Izzy' capitalised on a mistake by Australia's Cameron Bolton on the final jump, while Schairer overtook Nikolay Olyunin on the last metres, too, relegating the Russian to the third place.
“It's a gigantic feeling. It was very hard today as the heats were super close. You always had to battle for it. I knew that I was fast, but you had to stay calm on the home stretch.
Bringing home this victory in front of my friends and family made my dream come true. It was always one of my career's goals to win here,” cheered Haemmerle.
His fellow countryman Schairer, who earned his third consecutive Montafon podium after placing second and first back in 2012 and 2013, stated:
“The second rank feels like I have won. Especially as I can step on the podium with a teammate. We delivered the best we currently have today. My starts might have been weak but I rode well.”
The 2009 world champion's performance stands out even more when knowing where the Vorarlberg hero has come from over the past months.
“It's a great feeling for me to come back like this from my shoulder surgery I underwent last spring. Eight weeks ago, I wasn't even able to do some push-ups. We deserve this result.”
The snowboard cross World Cup tour continues tomorrow with a team event which will kick off things at the Seebliga on Hochjoch at 11 AM CET.