The opening leg of the 2018-2019 World Para-snowboard World Cup season in Dubai, UAE, has witnessed a day of firsts for the Australians.
The slopes of the Ski Dubai resort first saw 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 claimed gold, after running faster than the Austrian Patrick Mayrhofer (silver) and his Australian teammate Simon Patmore (bronze).
“I slept horribly last night, but I woke up, took a big cup a coffee and came here,” Pollard said. “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.”
The snowboarder lost most of his left arm and his lower right arm due to a shark attack while surfing in Esperance, WA, four years ago.
“I’d never snowboarded before my accident, but I was used to surfing and to skateboarding, so I gave it a try.”
Pollard made his international debut during the 2016-2017 season and was part of the Australian team that competed at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games, where 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,” he said.
Like Pollard, his teammate Ben Tudhope also celebrated his first victory 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 the USA’s Zach Miller (bronze).
This is the first time Dubai has hosted a major international snowboard competition, with 36 athletes from 12 countries competing.
The 2018-2019 season will feature six World Cups and the 2019 World Para-snowboard World Championships, which are set to be held in Pyhä, Finland, from 26-31 March 2019.
By World Para-snowboard