The first medals in the 2011 FIS Snowboard World Championships taking place from January 14th to 25th in La Molina were not handed out for nothing. One could see thrilling runs with hard man-to-man combat when all four competitors raced down the challenging track at high speed. With all favorites at the starting gates, 32 male and 16 female participants raced for medals. The men fought four KO-runs, the women had one battle less to stand. Finally Alex Pullin from Australia and American Lindsey Jacobellis made themselves champions.
Again a warm day with bird-blue sky brought exciting races to a unanimously praised SBX-track at the Alabaus Snowpark, 650 meters long with a vertical drop of 120 meters. Hard battles produced inevitable falls, some dramatic and painful. One of them saw the Austrian Markus Schairer, reigning world champion, dropping his 2009 men's crown at the last jump in the quarterfinals. Until then, the alleged SBX cream of the cream had arrived fairly safely at the finish line. Including double Olympic champion Seth Wescott (USA), the X Games champion Nate Holland (USA), Alex Pullin (AUS) and the current runner-up in the Overall World Cup, Frenchman Pierre Vaultier. But, the underdogs kept pushing hard, like young Italian Luca Matteotti, who performed amazingly well in his first World Championship appearance. Vaultier’s hopes fell into pieces when he couldn’t land a jump in the semifinals, a run he clearly dominant until then. Leaving all doors open for Wescott ahead of a struggling Pullin, making an amazing comeback after he messed up the start. The second semis brought an unleashed Matteotti and routinier Holland into the final. In the big final, the Australian did mark his territory from start to the finish line, when he blasted down the track leaving both US-boys without options for gold. Seth Wescott placed second pulling of a save performance that left him ahead of Nate Holland that couldn’t catch up after Matteotti crashed in front of him.
"I could honestly not be any happier. I’m stoked, since it is my first major title and i can share the podium with two of my idols. I had a fantastic time here in La Molina and i must state that the track they have mounted here is excellent", said the 23-year old Pullin."The most difficult race for me was the semifinal, because I got stuck in the door. Fortunately, I could catch up in time. This title is amazing for Australian snowboarding because we are a very small but excellent team".
In the ladies competitions, not much harm was done to the favorites in the first round except for French Deborah Anthonioz, one of today’s first quarter final victim’s that had to pack up alongside both underperforming Austrian riders. Finally, Olympic champion Maelle Ricker, her compatriot Dominique Maltais, this year’s World Cup dominator, French Nelly Moenne Loccoz, and Lindsey Jacobellis reached the final. Jacobellis, Olympic silver medalist in Turin 2006 and X-Games winner, although having a rather weak season this year, did like Alex Pullin, dominate her final run leaving her opponents behind. Favorite Maelle Ricker did position herself well after the first two jumps, but crashed after exiting a steep curve leaving all Canadian option for silver solemnly to Maltais. But the young French did well in keeping ahead of Maltais and consistently pressuring Jacobellis, leaving her with a well earned silver medal.
"I am very pleased with this title because my season has not being very good so far", said Jacobellis, 25. "I prepared for this games surfing on the coast of California for a couple of days. The SBX-circuit in La Molina is very quick and barely leaves you time to think. The track just comes right at you and any little mistake can be crucial. We must applaud those who made this race possible, because it seems impossible to do so at these temperatures. The scenery appeared almost artificial, like a picture painted in green with white dabs in it".