Meribel – It was a golden day for China at the Sprint race that kicked-off the Youth World Cup season in Meribel, with Zuhenlamu (CHN) crossing the finish line in first place in the Female U20 category, as did Ani Pumu (CHN) on the Female’s U18. On the men’s races, Theo Voutaz (SUI) won in the U18 Men’s, and Jules Raybaud (FRA) was the winner on the U20 Men’s category. A total of 113 athletes from 12 countries lines up on a cold day in the French Alpina resort for a sprint race that saw lots of action, and that ended up with Italy claiming four medals, China, Italy and Switzerland earning three, and France, Andorra, Austria and Norway one.
A great performance by the youngest Chinese athlete in the field, Ani Pumu, only 17 years old but already able to show great skills on the most demanding and technical format, the Sprint race, to claim the victory in Meribel, winning also her semi-final. Vanessa Marca (ITA) was second on the day, and Spain’s Laia Selles, also winner of her semi-final, crossed the finish line in third place but was penalized with 15 seconds for obstructing a competitor and ended up in the sixth place, while Lynn Pollinger (SUI) claimed the bronze. Fourth place was for Emma Albretch (AUT) and Erola Rocias (ESP) finished in 5th place.
Zuhenlamu had a dominant performance on the day, setting up the third best time on the qualification round and winning clearly her semi-final. A semi-final, the second one, that saw one of the strongest girls, Alice Maniezzo (ITA) out of the final by the blink of an eye, only 12 miliseconds. At the final, Zuhenlamu set the pace from the start, and only Andorra’s Lea Ancion Havet was able to try to fight for the gold, finally crossing the finish line in second, while another Chinese girl, Shengmei Mao, grabbed the bronze medal. Louise Trincaz (FRA), Clizia Vallet (ITA) and Louise Rigaud (FRA) completed the top six.
On the Men’s races, with almost 40 competitors on each category, the boys had to do heats -with the fastest two of each of the five heats making it directly to the semi finals, plus two lucky losers-, and it would be Theo Voutaz (SUI) who had a fabulous performance on the day, winning the qualification round, his heat, his semi-final and the grand final. The only one able to set a battle was Italy’s Enrico Pellegrini, who finished in second place just two seconds behind him. The third place was finally for Iver Holen (NOR), after Aaron Alvarez (ESP), who crossed the finish line in the third place, also received a penalty and was relegated to the last place on the final.
Jules Raybaud (FRA) executed a masterclass of skills and mindset to claim the gold at the Men’s U20 category, winning also his heat, his semi-final and the final by an impressive margin of over six seconds. It would be Hermann Debertolis (ITA) who would claim the second place, while Vicenzo Leonardo Taufer (ITA) crossed the finish line in third place.