Zoe Gillings, Britain’s best hope for gold on the snow at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, will lead off the British Snowboard Team’s challenge at the FIS World Snowboard Championships taking place in Gangwon, South Korea, this week.
In the early hours of Saturday morning GMT, Gillings qualified in 8th place for tomorrow’s (Sunday 18th) Snowboard Cross championship races which begin at noon Korean time, 3am GMT. The Isle of Man athlete will be looking to equal or better her third place in the World Cup Snowboard Cross event in Bad Gastein, Austria, last week.
Nick Dudar, who was due to compete in the men’s Snowboard Cross event, has unfortunately suffered a spinal injury and had to withdraw from the Championships.
Some 400 riders from 45 countries are competing in the FIS World Snowboard Championships which last until next Saturday, January 24. A full timetable can be accessed at www.fis-ski.com. The World Championships are held every two years and are the most prestigious events in snowboarding other than the Winter Olympics which takes place in Vancouver, Canada, next year.
As well as Gillings in the Snowboard Cross, Great Britain has five competitors in both the men’s and women’s Half Pipe discipline, four of whom took part in the recent World Cup Half Pipe event in Gujo, Japan. Dom Harington (24, Leeds) finished 16th, Ben Kilner (20, Banchory) 19th , Sam Cullum (20, Bracknell) 21st, with Kate Foster (23, Painswick) finishing 12th in the women’s division and all will take their place in Gangwon. Lesley McKenna, Britain’s double Olympian in the discipline, will be attempting to improve on last year’s 8th place finish. The Half Pipe finals are on Friday, January 23.
In addition, Sam Cullum will compete in the men-only Big Air event which closes the Championships next Saturday (24th January).
Mark Simmers, Chief Executive of Snowsport GB, said: ‘The World Championships are highly prestigious in themselves, but as this is a pre-Olympic year they take on an even greater significance. The British Snowboard Team has travelled to Korea with realistic expectations of improving our standing in events such as the Half Pipe where we have Lesley McKenna going again and several fine young athletes in ‘bubbling under’ positions.
‘Zoe Gillings has already qualified for tomorrow’s Snowboard Cross final and as she is in excellent form at the moment, taking a lot of confidence into the Championships following her podium finish in the last World Cup race, we are looking forward to a good showing from her.’