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Win puts Pullin on top of the world

17 March 2013

SNOWBOARD CROSS: Dual snowboard cross World  Champion Alex “Chumpy” Pullin turned silver into gold with a dramatic lunge on the finish line in Veysonnaz, Switzerland, today, to force the first dead-heat victory in World Cup history, providing the crowning accolade to Australia’s highest World Cup and World Championships medal tally in one season in more than 43 years of participation.

Pullin looked destined for second place with just metres to go in the final but the Australian Institute of Sport athlete was able to manufacture a perfectly timed manoeuvre on the finish line that made it impossible for the judges to separate the first two riders in a photo finish.

After a lengthy deliberation, Pullin and Poland’s Mateusz Ligocki were declared joint winners, ahead of the third placed Austrian Alessandro Haemmerle.

The win is the 24th medal won by an Australian athlete in elite wintersport competition this season and combining Winter Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup medals, Pullin’s gold is Australia’s 300th medal.

Pullin’s victory, his third this season, clinched the World Cup Crystal Globe trophy, the highest honour in World Cup competition, which is awarded to the athlete who finishes the season on top of the series points table.

It is the second time Pullin has won the Crystal Globe trophy and, like his first time in 2011, he has achieved this exceptional feat in the same year as winning the World Championships title, offering irrefutable proof that the Australian, with seven finals appearances in seven races, is clearly the season’s best rider.

With one World Cup round still to be contested, the world number one has increased the margin over his closest rival, Austria’s Markus Schairer, to 1750 points.

With a maximum of 1000 points up for grabs in the season ending finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain, next weekend, the Australian holds an unassailable lead.

After posting the second fastest time in the qualification session, the day went to plan with the AIS rider notching wins in the round of 32 and his quarter final, before qualifying for the medal round with a second place in a semi-final.

Pullin said the last turn in the final was pivotal to today’s result.

“As we came into the bottom section in the last turn, that was a make or break situation,” he said.

“It was tricky for me because of the slipstream with all riders bunched up again. The decision I had to make was to take a very high line and carry speed across the long flat to the finish or take the low line and block my line but perhaps risk being passed.

“I went for the high line and it paid off.”

In contrast, Ligocki took the low line, which did not generate the same amount of speed out of the turn and although the manoeuvre put the Pole into the lead, Pullin had the velocity approaching the line.

Pullin was able to close a two length deficit, only to brush shoulders with Ligocki about 20 metres from the line, which again cost the Australian valuable speed.

As the two contenders approached the finish, Pullin thrust his board forward just as they crossed the line to bring about the unprecedented dead-heat.

A delighted Pullin said that this season has been “my perfect season.”

“Seven races, seven finals, World Championships victory, Globe locked away, it can’t be better,” he said.

“There’s been a certain amount of intensity, what I call Ninja mode, being able to stay in focus all season.

“I’ve been that way for the last 12 months. Every training run, every weight I lift really counts to me. At the start of the season it is hard to see the big picture but looking back, that’s what I stuck to and that’s what’s worked.

“Winning the overall title was playing on my mind today and I knew I had to go for the win.

“My key today was being really smooth, really fluent and to carry momentum.”

Pullin praised his coach AIS Head Coach Ben Wordsworth for his role, along with his parents who have supported his dreams since he skied for the first time at the age of three and the AIS / Olympic Winter Institute of Australia scholarship program, which has set up the outstanding results enjoyed across a number of wintersport disciplines this season.

NSW Institute of Sport athletes Cam Bolton and 17-year-old Jarryd Hughes both made the finals but were eliminated in the round of 32.

In the women’s event, Australia’s world number eight, NSWIS rider Belle Brockhoff finished the day in ninth place behind winning French rider Nelly Moenne Loccoz, Canada’s Dominique Maltais in second and Czech Eva Samkova in third. Australia’s Torah Bright was 22nd.

Meanwhile in Sweden, AIS / NSWIS athletes Anton Grimus was 14th, Scott Kneller 19th, Katya Crema 15th and Sami Kennedy Sim was 23rd in their World Cup ski cross event in Are.

Results – women’s snowboard cross World Cup, Veysonnas, Switzerland
1.    Nelly Moenne Loccoz (FRA) 2. Dominque Maltais (CAN), 3. Eva Samkova (CZE), 4. Raffaella Brutto (ITA), 5. Alexandra Jekova (BUL), 6. Michela Moioli (ITA), 9. Belle Brockhoff (AUS)

Women’s snowboard cross World Cup standings after six rounds
1.    D.Maltais (CAN) 4800, 2. N.Moenne Loccoz (FRA) 3710, 3. E.Samkova (CZE) 2780, 4. M.Moioli (ITA) 2670, 5. A.Jekova (BUL) 2500, 5. M.Ricker (CAN) 2500, 8. Belle Brockhoff (AUS) 1770.

Results – men’s snowboard cross World Cup, Veysonnas, Switzerland
1.    Alex Pullin (AUS), 1. Mateusz Ligocki (POL), 3. Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT), 4. Robert Fagan (CAN), 5. Christopher Robanske (CAN), 6. Markus Schairer (AUT), 33. Cam Bolton (AUS), 40. Jarryd Hughes (AUS).

Men’s snowboard cross World Cup standings after six rounds
1.    A. Pullin (AUS) 4550, 2. M.Schairer (AUT) 2800, 3. C.Robanske (CAN) 2382, 4. N.Baumgartner (USA) 2360, 5. O.Visintin (ITA) 2312, 6. A.Haemmerle (AUT) 2257, 36. C.Bolton (AUS) 366, 55. J.Hughes (AUS) 124.5, 56. A.Fischer (AUS) 123.

Results – women’s ski cross World Cup, Are, Sweden
1.    Anna Woerner (GER), 2. Marielle Berger Sabbatel (FRA), 3. Karolina Riemen (POL), 4. Heidi Zacher (GER), 5. Marielle Thompson (CAN), 6. Katrin Mueller (SUI), 15. Katya Crema (AUS), 23. Sami Kennedy Sim (AUS).

Women’s ski cross World Cup standing after 11 rounds
1.    F. Smith (SUI) 476, 2. O. David (FRA) 442, 3. K. Serwa (CAN) 401, 4. M. Berger Sabbatel (FRA) 378, 5. M. Hoeie Gjefsen (NOR) 312, 6. K.Mueller (SUI) 284, 18. K.Crema (AUS) 161, 27. S.Kennedy Sim (AUS) 68, 30. J.Owens (AUS) 61.

Results – men’s ski cross World Cup, Are, Sweden
1.    Alex Fiva (SUI), 2. Victor Oehling Norberg (WE), 3. Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA), 4. Joe Swensson (USA), 5. Filip Flisar (SLO), 6. Simon Stickl (GER), 14. Anton Grimus (AUS), 19. Scott Kneller (AUS).

Men’s ski cross World Cup standing after 11 rounds
1.    A.Fiva (SUI) 574, 2. A.Niederer (SUI) 434, 3. V.Oehling Norberg (SWE) 388, 4. Brady Leman (CAN) 333, 5. Tomas Kraus (CZE) 322, 6. Filip Flisar (SLO) 278, 11. A.Grimus (AUS) 182, 20. S.Kneller (AUS) 130.

Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA)

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