Australian snowboard cross athletes enjoyed a golden weekend in Europe with Jarryd Hughes and Belle Brockhoff winning the gold medal in the snowboard cross mixed teams’ event at the World Championships at Idre Fjäll, Sweden.
A Paralympic snowboard cross World Cup snowboard cross was also held in Phya, Finland on the weekend and Australia’s Ben Tudhope won the gold medal in snowboard cross in the first event and backed it up with a silver medal at the same venue the following day.
For Brockhoff and Hughes the Gold Medal made up for disappointing results in the individual World Championships, Brockhoff missing out on the podium when she placed fourth in the final after falling 70 metres out from the finish. Hughes finished equal 9th when he placed third in the quarter finals.
The mixed team’s event is a two-competitor-per-team relay with one male and one female athlete. The male athletes race first, with the women leaving the start gate with the respective time margin that the men crossed the finish line. It was the first time the mixed team’s event had been held at the World Championships and it will be a new event at next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing
In the medal round, Hughes got Australia off to a great start in the final with impressive riding to cross the line in first place, 0.77 seconds ahead of the Italian team.
Brockhoff then brushed off the pressure and rode an incredible race, taking the lead in the final stages and finishing 0.64 seconds ahead of the Italian team with France crossing the line in third place.
“Well, this is as good as it gets! We haven’t raced in a team event before ever. We knew we could do it and we were really confident in our abilities, then we just set out a really good game plan among the two of us and maximised our strengths and I am just lucky to have had such a strong rider like Belle to be riding with,” said Hughes after the race.
“I am really stoked to be here, especially after yesterday’s fall, it’s a bit of a redemption, so I am very happy and very excited,” teammate Brockhoff said.
For Ben Tudhope it was the perfect return to competition after disrupted year. Ben, last year’s overall world cup champion, had a great race finishing ahead of Finland’s Matti Suur-Hamari took the silver medal and Evan Strong (USA) was third.
A second World Cup race was held at the same venue the following day with Subramani getting taking the gold head of Tudhope and Strong took home another bronze.
The mixed teams gold is the first Australian snowboard cross World Championship gold medal since the late Alex “Chumpy” Pulllin won his second consecutive World Title in 2013.
The snowboard cross athletes will now head to the Austrian resort of Reiteralm for a World Cup event on February 18.