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Big air in Barcelona
Sunday January 16, 2011 - Email this article to a friend

The Snowboard World Championships have got under way in Spain with victory for Finland's Petja Piiroinen in the Big Air. The event was held on a purpose built ramp in the city centre; the other events take place in La Molina this week. PlanetSKI reports.

It was quite a spectacle as 55 of the world's best boarders battled it out at the much anticipated and eagerly awaited World Championships.

Barcelona provided a stunning backdrop.

Once the opening ceremony was completed the big air competition took place in front of 17,000 spectators on the 31 metre ramp in the old Olympic Park.

The Finish rider took gold.  The 19-year old was one of the favourites having won a sliver medal at the first big air event in Battersea in London back in October.

Piiroinen collected 25.5 points in his first jump but then had a very poor second one getting only 9.6 marks.  However he stormed back in the third with 26.2. Under the rules of the competition only the best two scores count.

Zach Stone of Canada was second and the bronze medal went to Seppe Smits of Belgium.What a venue!What a venue!

It is becoming quite the norm now for skiing and snowboarding events to be held in a city centre as a way of generating interest.  Just a few weeks ago the world's top skiers were doing battle in Munich. We reported on it here.

It has also happened in Barcelona before.

And of course the first World up event for the snowboarders was held next to Batttersea Power station in London.

This time though it is the big one; the Snowboard World Championships.

They started back in 1996 and are held every two years.

The other events start on Tuesday at the resort of La Molina.

La Molina is two hours north of Barcelona in the Pyrenees and is the oldest ski resort in Spain.

Competitors come from 44 different countries.  Canada has 47 athletes, Switzerland 45, Austria 40, Russia 39, France 37, United States 34 and Italy 31.

Montenegro has a team of one, Vuk Sarovic. While Argentina, Georgia and Kazajistan are in Spain with two athletes. The Spanish have fielded a team of 21.

There is growing interest in snowboarding competitions and the events were some of the hits of the last Winter Olympics so expect some great competition next week and here at PlanetSKI we will be following it.

Check out the promotional You Tube video below for a flavour of what is to come.

Competition begins on Tuesday.  Each event will have practise sessions and qualifying rounds.

Preparations underwayPreparations underway18.01.2011   Final SBX Men and Women

19.01.2011   Final PGS (Giant Slalom) Men and Women

20.01.2011   Final HP Men and Women

21.01.2011   Final PSL (Slalom) Men and Women           

22.01.2011   Final Slope style (SBS) Men and Women

There are quite a few of the world's top riders staying away from La Molina.

Many of the best American male and female riders are noticeable by their absence.

it should be goodIt should be good

















So who are the ones to look out for?

Nate Holland, USA, snowboard cross

He is one of the best SBX riders in the world and is the five-times reigning champion for the Winter X Games, but all those have happened in the USA. He needs a victory abroad to enhance his reputation.

Setha Wescott, USA, snowboards cross.

The current Olympic Gold medallist. Enough said.

Dominique Maltais, CAN, snowboard cross

She's on top form at the moments and has won three races so far this winter, each time beating compatriot Maelle Ricker, the defending Olympic and overall World Cup champion.

"It's been an exceptional start to the 2011 season," Maltais said. "I feel in the greatest shape of my career, as focused as ever on winning. Both Maelle and I are riding strong, and we intend to deliver our best performances at the worlds."

Lindsey Jacobellis, USA, snowboard cross

She should make it to the final but don't remind her of Turin in 2006. You know the one where she was coasting home in gold medal position but did a grab and fell just before the winning line.

Iouri Podladtchikov, SUI, halfpipe

He is Europe's best halfpipe rider and the favourite to win his first world title. He goes by the nick-name of I-Pod. He should win in part because none of the American stars are making the trip. He is though world class in his own right and won the European Winter X Games in Tignes last winter that we reported from at PlanetSKI.

He was the second person to land the Double McTwist 1260, thus winning the European Winter X Games.

After witnessing Shaun White throw the maneuver during his victory run in Vancouver, I-Pod tried it, perfected it, and inserted it into his runs.

Queralt Castellet, Spain, halfpipe

She is the Spaniard most likely to win a world title on home snow. The 21-year old has been on a World Cup podium three times, had top 10 finishes at the 2007 and 20909 World Championships, and qualified in third place for the 2010 Olympics. The top US female riders won't be in La Molina, and neither will defending Olympic champ Torah Bright of Australia, so this gives her an even better chance.

For more information about the event see the official web site here.

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