Gulini Earns Back-to-Back Podiums; Kearney Third at Chiesa in Valmalenco
The U.S. Snowboardcross Team continued their early-season success on Sunday with Faye Gulini earning her second podium in as many days finishing in second, and Hagen Kearney claiming third in the final race of the Chiesa in Valmalenco World Cup in Italy.
While Gulini was confident from her podium performance on Saturday, she knew she would have to maintain the elements of her riding that have proved fruitful thus far.
“I didn’t come into today thinking I had it in the bag and knew I would have to work for it, maybe even more so than yesterday,” said a thrilled Gulini. “After making it through the initial heat and quarters, that’s when I started to feel like I was going to finals. I tried to focus on getting a good holeshot, which I have done successfully on many of my runs this weekend. I’m really excited I was able to put that element of my riding together when many athletes were struggling with the start.”
Kearney attributes his success to learnings gained from two-consecutive days of competition.
“I learned a lot from yesterday,” said Kearney. “There was a specific mistake I made in yesterday’s final going into the first turn that cost me a podium. I made sure to not do that again, especially because I trust in everything else I’m doing right now. Today was a fight and it feels good to be on the podium."
One consistent theme that came out of the snowboardcross World Cup season-opening weekend was the tremendous sense of camaraderie among the U.S. Snowboardcross Team athletes, coaches, and staff that, according to Kearney, has really created a competitive edge.
“Our performance as a team this weekend is just an affirmation that everyone is clicking,” he said. “Our wax techs are in such a good groove and everyone’s boards are going crazy fast to the point where other nations are noticing. Our coaches don’t need to say much to us and are just offering little direction here and there because we are all tuned in to what we know we need to do. The U.S. is incredibly strong right now and it has been fun to be a part of.”
2018 Junior World Champion Jake Vedder just missed earning his second World Cup podium crossing the line behind Kearney in the big final to finish fourth. Although Vedder didn’t podium, his enthusiasm was contagious. Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold also had a great day on the course finishing in sixth place. Mick Dierdorfff finished in ninth and Senna Leith in 13th.
2019-20 FIS Crystal Globe winner Alessandro Haemmerle of Austria won the event and Merlin Surget of France finished second.
For the women, 2019 FIS World Champion Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic finished first and Julia Pereira De Sousa Mabileau of France rounded out the podium in third. U.S. riders Lindsey Jacobellis and Stacy Gaskill both finished 13th.
Following the first two World Cup races of the season, the U.S. is looking solid in the FIS Snowboardcross Cup standings. For the women, Gulini is ranked second, only behind Samkova, and Gaskill is 12th. For the men, Kearney sits in fourth, Vedder in eighth, and Deibold in 11th.
Next up, the U.S. Snowboardcross Team will head to Sweden’s Idre Fjäll Feb. 11-12 for the FIS Snowboardcross World Championships.
HOW TO WATCH
All times in EST
Sunday, Jan. 24
12:00 p.m. - FIS Snowboardcross World Cup Finals - Chiesea in Valmalenco, Italy, Olympic Channel-TV*
10:00 p.m. - FIS Snowboardcross World Cup Finals - Chiesea in Valmalenco, Italy, NBCSN*
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