Narita shows speed at Europa Cup

The Japanese snowboarder wins race and shows he can shake things up at the World Cup

Japan’s Gurimu Narita competes at the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships in Big White, Canada. Japan’s Gurimu Narita competes at the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships in Big White, Canada. © • Gavin Crawford

Snowboarders got the early race jitters out of their systems before the World Para Snowboard World Cup kicks off in Landgraaf, Netherlands, as a Europa Cup was held prior on Tuesday (14 November) at the same site.

The men’s banked slalom SB-LL2 was the lone event that did not follow script. Japan’s Narita Gurimu clocked the fastest time of the day with 41.02, beating the USA’s Mike Shea (42.28) and Australia’s Ben Thudhope (42.98). The Japanese snowboarder burst into the scenes last season after taking bronze at the 2017 World Championships and would hope to carry over his performance into the World Cup, which runs Wednesday to Thursday (15-16 November).

The men’s SB-LL1 could also be tight over the next two days. The Netherlands’ home favourite Chris Vos sped to victory with his fastest run of 44.56. The Dutch 19-year-old world champion remains the one to beat this week, but the USA’s banked slalom World Championship silver medallist Mike Schultz threatened with his time of 44.95. Croatia’s Bruno Bosnjak (45.54) came in third.

The host nation also saw another victory, this time in the women’s SB-LL2 event. Last season’s overall World Cup winner Lisa Bunschoten was dominant in both her runs to win, with her quickest being 46.78. She was nearly two seconds ahead of Australia’s Joany Badenhorst (48.35) and three seconds from the USA’s Brittani Coury (49.64).

The USA’s world champion Brenna Huckaby and Worlds silver medallist Mike Minor had no trouble taking their respective events.

Huckaby won the women’s SB-LL1 in 47.88; followed by France’s Cecile Hernandez-Cervellon (48.83) and Canada’s Michelle Salt (50.84).

Coming off an overall crystal globe season, Minor (42.80) was untouchable in the men’s SB-UL. Austria’s 2015 world champion Patrick Mayrhofer (44.56) raced his first World Para Snowboard event in a year. His second-place finish in Landgraaf was a promising return after injuring his knee during a training run at the 2017 World Championships in Big White, Canada. Italy’s Jacopo Luchini (44.73) completed the podium.

The Netherlands’ Danielle Verhoeven finished the women’s SB-UL category in 1:14.72.

Complete results from the Europa Cup in Landgraaf can be found at World Para Snowboard's website.

World Cup races in banked slalom will be held 15-16 November. Live results will also be available online.