Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel won the first IPC Alpine Skiing Snowboard Cross Europa Cup in Landgraaf on Thursday (21 November), heading into Friday's (22 November) World Cup as favourite to again top the podium.
Mentel beat closest American competitor Amy Purdy by more than 12 seconds to win the title at the season opener at SnowWorld. The 41-year-old put in three sub-38 second runs to finish with an overall time of 1:17.72, whilst Purdy strung together a total of 1:24.80.
Mentel’s teammate Lisa Bunschoten put in a promising performance to finish third with 1:29.77.
Purdy and Mentel’s close competition continues from last season, where Mentel just edged one of the most experienced members of the USA team to top the world rankings, ahead of five other American women who made it into the top 10.
In the men’s event it was USA’s Mike Shea who hooked it up to finish first in the lower-limb impairment class (1:07.28), ahead of world number-five Tomas Vaverka of the Czech Republic with a time of 1:10.02. Vaverka overtook Shea after his second attempt, as the pair grappled for position with under second separating them throughout.
USA’s Keith Gabel, world No. 3 after last season, completed his set of runs in third (1:11.24).
Tyler Burdick, who finished eighth overall in 2012-13, struggled somewhat to keep up with the field to finish in fourteenth. Overall though, Team USA will be pleased with a total of three podiums across the men’s and women’s events and look strong heading further into the season.
The Netherlands' Chris Vos looks to have stepped up his game, finishing fourth overall after his top-10 ranking from last year and completing a convincing showing for the Dutch team in Landgraaf so far.
In the men’s upper-limb impairment class, Italian Roberto Cavicchi led compatriot and joint world No. 1 David Preziosi throughout, but with a 0.70 second difference overall it wasn’t easy. Cavicchi finished with a time of 1:17.72. Spain’s Adrian Garcia Fresneda completed the podium.
Para-snowboard cross makes its debut in March at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Riders head out again at the same venue for the first World Cup of the season. Updates will be posted to IPC Alpine’s Twitter and Facebook pages during the competition.