Fanny Smith led women's qualification in Sunny Valley ©Getty Images

Switzerland’s Fanny Smith maintained her fine record at Sunny Valley by posting the fastest time in women’s International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski Cross World Cup qualification.

Smith has won three of the past four women’s races to take place at the Russian venue, including last year’s back-to-back competitions.

The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic bronze medallist achieved a time of 1min 6.51sec to lead the qualification standings today.

Smith needs a victory in Sunny Valley and a blip for Sandra Näslund if she is to boost her faint hopes of overhauling the Swedish skier.

Näslund looks unlikely to falter in the final two events of the season though after she placed third in qualification in 1:07.09.

Canada’s Marielle Thompson separated the top two in World Cup standings in qualifying, placing second today in 1:06.63.

The top 16 skiers advanced to tomorrow’s competition, which will begin at the quarter-final stage.

Switzerland’s Marc Bischofberger led men’s qualification after recording a time of 1:04.04.

He was just 0.05 seconds clear of second-placed Igor Omelin of Russia, with Austria’s Christoph Wahrstoetter completing the top three in 1:04.13.

Canada’s Kevin Drury, who is already assured of claiming the overall World Cup title, placed fourth in 1:04.26.