SBX: One centimeter decides about menís Gold and Silver

The first champions of the 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships Gangwon, Korea, are crowned. Helene Olafsen (NOR) and Markus Schairer (AUT) claimed victory in a very exciting first contest of this yearís major event.

Final in Gangwon.  Copyright: FIS - Oliver KrausOlafsen celebrated a wire-to-wire triumph in the ladies final as she took the lead right away from the start finally relegating Switzerland’s Olivia Nobs and Mellie Francon to the second and third rank respectively. Maelle Ricker from Canada came in as the unlucky fourth.

On the men’s side, the final was the closest ever in a World Championships. 2007 World Champion Xavier Delerue was leading the pack of four riders all the way down until Schairer edged him off to second spot crossing the finish line only one centimeter ahead of the French rider. Nick Baumgartner (USA) rounded out the podium as third ahead of Tom Velisek from Canada.

“This was such a tight final but I knew I was leading when I went into the finish” Markus Schairer said after his first ever big victory. The young Austrian who had automatically raised his hand in a triumphant pose after finishing added: “It’s an unbelievable feeling: right at the start I was hoping not to finish fourth. Then I had a super start and tried to pass Xavier a few times. In the end, I noticed that had he made a mistake and went for it. Now, I can only enjoy this moment.” It was the well-earned price for the 21-year-old after winning the qualifiers of the last two World Cups and yesterday’s time trials without winning a race so far. Until today.

On the other hand, former World Champion Xavier Delerue was a little bit disappointed about the mistake “which I made at the second last jump. But this is OK. I was struggling with the weather the whole day, I don’t mind.” However, from now on, his main goal is the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. “Therefore it was a good lesson to stay concentrated all the way down although I should have done so as I should be experienced enough.”

In the ladies’ competition, Helene Olafsen took home Gold after she placed third two years ago in Arosa. This, despite the fact that she normally doesn’t train any snowboard cross but only practices in the halfpipe: “I don’t understand it yet. I felt better than yesterday” where she placed seventh in the qualifiers. “It was fun to ride and if I have fun I do well. I knew that I could do better than yesterday as I did some mistakes in the qualifying” so the 18-year-old rider further one who won all of her heats today.

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On Saturday, January 17th, the 2009 FIS Snowboard World Championships Gangwon, Korea will kick off in Gangwon with the first disciplinesí qualifying.


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