France’s Bastien Midol topped the men’s qualification standings on the opening day of action at the International Ski Federation Ski Cross World Cup in Sunny Valley in Russia’s Chelyabinsk region.
The World Cup leader posted a time of 1min 01.08sec on the Cross Park course, beating compatriot Jean-Frédéric Chapuis to first place by a margin of 0.64 seconds.
Completing the top three was Canada’s Brady Leman, who finished 0.83 seconds off the pace.
The top 32 athletes have all qualified for the final.
Midol currently sits atop the World Cup standings with 496 points, putting him 113 ahead of three-time crystal globe winner Chapuis.
In women’s qualification, recently-crowned world champion Marielle Thompson of Canada led the way with a time of 1:04.60.
Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund finished second in 1:05.14, while Switzerland’s Fanny Smith, who like Naeslund walked away from Sunny Valley with a victory last season, came third in 1:05.19.
The top 16 athletes have all qualified for the final.
Smith leads the World Cup standings on 563 points with Naeslund second on 550 and Thompson third on 470.
The second day of men’s and women’s qualification is scheduled for tomorrow before the finals are held on Saturday (February 23) and Sunday (February 24).