Alessandro Haemmerle and Michela Moioli claimed their first career major victories by winning snowboard cross World Cup events on Sunday in Sochi, Russia.
Haemmerle, who led the final heat from the start, was followed by American Alex Deibolds and fellow Austrian Markus Schairer.
Moioli of Italy was a surprise winner in the women's event when most of the World Cup leaders were eliminated in early rounds when they failed to finish in a heavy falling snow on a long and tough course. Nelly Moenne Loccoz of France finished second and was followed by Helene Olafsen of Norway.
"It's unbelievable that I won this race. But I guess, I really deserved this win today, although you always need a little bit of luck too," Haemmerle said. "Winning on the Olympic hill is like setting an example. And of course hopes are high now to do as good as today on this course next year."
It was also the first World Cup podium for Deibolds.
"I'm very happy about my first podium. I think it's pretty appropriate," Deibolds said. "The conditions today made it pretty challenging. . It was pretty tight racing for most of the day. So I would call it a complete race."
Moioli's victory was only Italy's second women's triumph in snowboard cross World Cup history. Carmen Ranigler won a cross race on Jan 20, 2000, in Schoenried, Switzerland.
The 17-year-old Moioli scored her victory on her third appearance at a World Cup event. "I'm very happy. This place is fantastic. The course has been very good. I love this course," she said.
Reigning two-time world champion and World Cup leader Alex Pullin missed the podium when he collided with Pierre Vaultier of France with 25 metres left to race in the final heat. The Australian snowboarder leads the standings with 2,550 points after four of 12 races this season. With his second podium finish this season, Schairer rose to second with 2,300 points. Christopher Robanske of Canada was eliminated in the first round and dropped to third with 1,910 points.
The women's leader Dominique Maltais missed the podium for the first time this season after she fell midway through the quarterfinals heat. The Canadian leads the standings with 3,000 points after two wins and a second place. After claiming her first podium this season, Moenne Loccoz moved to second place with 2,260 points. She is followed by Eva Samkova of the Czech Republic with 1,860 points.
The competition was the last of the snowboard test events, held this week at the Roza Khutor Extreme Park — a venue for the Sochi Olympics next year. The competitions were marred by mild weather and heavy snowfalls and rains that forced the organizers to cancel the slopestyle and parallel slalom events.