It was Australia’s day today at the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games Snowboard Cross with reigning Snowboard Cross world champion and X Games competitor, Alex Pullin taking out the Men’s competition and Belle Brockhof taking gold in the Women’s competition.
Mother nature cooperated providing blue skies and light winds; the athletes provided the entertainment in this fast paced competition that, for spectators, is similar to watching a motocross event.
"It was great to be out here today competing against some of the world’s best", said Pullin. "The Winter Games is fantastic in that it provides another major competition during the Southern Hemisphere season. It’s critical to our training and to being in top form for the Northern Hemisphere season. I’ll definitely be back".
Pullin went on to comment on his teammates Cameron Bolton and Andy Fischer who placed second and fourth respectively. "We’ve been working hard to bring these two developing athletes up and it was fantastic to see them step it up for this competition. All around it was an amazing day, the weather was great, the course was great and we’re all happy to be here".
In third was America’s Chris Mahaney the second highest ranked competitor in today’s field.
Six nations were represented in the Men’s field with 31 riders competing. New Zealand’s top ranked Snowboard Cross rider Philip Dominick was the top placing kiwi today finishing in sixth place with Cody Logan coming in just behind him in eighth.
The Women’s results today proved that in Snowboard Cross being at the top doesn’t guarantee the win; one small mistake can see a title slipping away. In the semifinals, top ranked rider, 2010 Olympian and X Games silver medalist Callan Chythlook-Sifsof (USA) slid out while overtaking Amanda Taylor (AUS) who launched over Chythlook. This small error cost Cythlook her shot in the finals and in the end the win went to Brockhof with teammate Alexandra Lockie taking second and Japan’s Karen Iwadare rounding out the podium.
Brockhof was pleased with her result, "This is my third race back after a two year break". Brokhof took the break after a year of too many close calls and for a time changed her focus to Slalom and Parallel Giant Slalom. "When I stopped competing I was ranked 32nd in the world; it feels good to be making a comeback. I knew with Callan in the field I needed to go flat out. I was hungry for the win today".
There are two stages to each Snowboard Cross competition. The first stage sees riders taking on the course against the clock to decide in which order they race. Then riders race in heats of four where they fly down the same course at the same time as three other competitors. The first two to cross the line move to the next stage of the competition.