Solitude Mountain Resort (USA) - A little bit of history was made on Super Bowl Sunday in America, though it wasn’t by the players on the field in Atlanta. Rather, a new chapter in snowboard histroy was written by Lindsey Jacobellis and Mick Dierdrorff of the USA, who won the first-ever FIS Snowboard mixed team snowboard cross competition, at the Utah 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships.
After a week of beautiful blue skies leading up to the event, the winter storm scheduled for Saturday night arrived right on time, dropping 20 cms of fresh snow on the course at Solitude and raising some doubts as to weather Sunday’s competition would even be able to take place. However, with all hands on deck to clear and prepare the track for racing, the first riders were out of the gate right on time, and a hugely entertaining SBX race closed out the Solitude portion of the Utah 2019 world champs.
The day began with 16 teams looking for world champs gold, with the field eventually being whittled down to a big final that featured the Jacobellis/Dierdorff pairing, Michela Moioli and Omar Visintin of Italy, Hanna Ihedioha and Paul Berg of Germany, and a second set of Italians in Emanuel Perathoner and Francesca Gallina.
With the men running first, Dierdorff found himself in trouble for the first time in either the individual race or the mixed team competition at the worst possible time, falling behind in the big final and unable to make a pass at any point throughout his half of the job at hand. While he was able to keep himself close in tight pack of riders, it would be Berg crossing the line in front, followed by Visintin and Perathoner, with Dierdorff just over a half-second back.
Luckily for Dierdorff, waiting in the gate to drop in after him was the most-decorated SBX athlete of all-time in Jacobellis, and with a lightning-fast start section she moved herself into second place ahead of the Italians before she had even hit the first straightaway. From there, the five-time individual snowboard cross world champion easily overtook Ihedioha around the first corner, jumping into a lead that wouldn’t be challenged on her way to her sixth world championships gold medal, Mick Dierdorff’s second gold of the Utah 2019 world champs, and for the pair the first-ever mixed team SBX world title.
“Two gold medals…yeah, it was absolutely in my dreams,” said Dierdorff at the post-event press conference, “Coming into Solitude, I knew it was going to be an awesome course and that I was going to love it. It’s such an awesome mountain and all the people supporting us, to make that dream come true here is just incredible.
“It was a really great experience being paired up with Mick today,” said Jacobellis from beside her teammate, “I was happy with my performance in the individual race on Friday (where she placed fifth), but to turn it around here and have a game plan with Mick that we were able to execute today, I’m really happy with that.”
“It was definitely a bit of a different mindset today,” Dierdorff went on to describe the gold medal-winning heat, “Obviously, I wanted to finish first and give Lindsey as big of a lead as possible, but in the finals the heat didn’t go my way for the first time on this course. But I think that’s maybe the coolest thing about today, is that I crossed in fourth and the initial reaction is kind of gut-wrenching when you’re last in a snowboard cross heat, but then it was like, ‘Wait, I’ve got the greatest of all-time Lindsey Jacobellis coming out of the gate…yes Linds, you got it!’ And she went from fourth to first and showed that again that she’s just a bad-ass rider.”
Second place and the silver medal went to Moioli and Visintin, giving Moioli her fourth career world championships medal (three bronze and Sunday’s silver) and the first for her teammate Visintin.
“It was amazing today, and I’m really happy to race with Omar,” said Moioli, “I thought it was super cool and a great show, and I can’t wait to race with him again. I said I want to get all the colours of the medals, so this is good. Maybe next time I can step up and get the gold.”
“Racing with Michela was an honour for me,” Visintin echoed, “Especially because I didn’t have such a good day in the individual race. But racing with her was super fun and like she said, I can’t wait to do it again.”
Berg and Ihedioha claimed bronze with their third-place performance, which was for both of them their first piece of world championships hardware.
“It’s just awesome,” said Ihedioha of standing on the Utah 2019 podium, “It’s my first World Cup or world champs podium. It all worked out today and I’m just super happy.”
“It was snowy, but the track was alright today,” said Berg, “It was pretty slow, but it was still solid racing possible. I had a fun day. It’s a totally different style of riding on a day like today. You don’t want to sink your edges in too much, you’re trying to find a smooth line through the turns, you’ve got to pump everything…you’re pretty exhausted at the bottom.”