Day of firsts for Aussie snowboarders in Dubai

Sean Pollard and Ben Tudhope take gold on World Cup opening day

Three men with helmets in an indoor ski resort Winner Sean Pollard (middle) with Simon Patmore (left) and Patrick Mayrhofer on the men's SB-UL podium © • World Para Snowboard

The World Para Snowboard World Cup season kicked off Wednesday (7 November) in Dubai, UAE, with a day of firsts for the Australians.

The slopes of the Ski Dubai resort first witnessed Sean Pollard's maiden World Cup podium. And the 27-year-old Aussie not only took a place between the medallists in the men's banked slalom SB-UL, but also claimed gold, after running faster than the Austrian Patrick Mayrhofer (silver) and his compatriot Simon Patmore (bronze).

“I slept horrible last night, but I woke up, took a big cup a coffee and came here. The course was a little bit challenging, but I was able to take gold. It’s an amazing start and feels so good to win,” said Pollard.

The snowboarder lost most of his left arm and his lower right arm due to a shark attacked while surfing in Australia four years ago.

“I'd never snowboarded before my accident, but I was used to surf and to skateboard, so I gave it a try,” Pollard added.

He made his international debut in the 2016-17 season and was part of the Australian team that competed at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. In South Korea, he finished fifth in the men's banked slalom SB-UL.

“I won my first World Cup gold medal today, but I have to keep up the good work. It's a long road to the World Championships and to the next Paralympic Games,” said the Aussie.

First win for Tudhope

Like Pollard, Australian Ben Tudhope also celebrated his first win at a World Para Snowboard World Cup. The-18-year-old has been competing since the 2014/2015 season and was all smiles after the race in the men's banked slalom SB-LL2.

“Great day, great race. The course here is Dubai is awesome. They put a pretty good slope for us and I got a great run. I am amazed by my first World Cup win ever. I've been training so hard and feels good to see it paying off.”

Tudhope was followed by China's Qi Sun (silver) and USA's Zach Miller (bronze).

In the men's banked slalom SB-LL1, Dutch rider Chris Vos finished first, Croatia’s Bruno Bosnjak second, and Austria’s Reinhold Schett third.

There was another Dutch victory with the two-time Paralympic medallist Lisa Bunschoten in the women's SB-LL2. China’s Qiaorong Pang won the women's banked slalom SB-UL.

The World Cup has one more day of action on Thursday (8 November). Dubai is hosting a major international snowboard competition for the first time, with 35 athletes from 12 countries.

The 2018-19 season includes six World Cups in total and the World Championships, which will take place in Pyha, Finland, from 26-31 March 2019.

Full results from the Dubai 2018 World Cup are available on the World Para Snowboard website.