The 18-year-old NSW Institute of Sport rider kick-started his season in fine style with a strong display in qualifying, recording a 12th fastest time and earning a place in the 48-man finals draw.
Hughes crossed the line in the first final in second place and then backed up with a third place in the quarters to move to the semis where the young Australian finished fifth, short of the top three places needed to qualify for the final, which was won by Austrian Markus Schairer, ahead of Italian Omar Visitin and the third placed Canadian Kevin Hill.
Hughes finished the day in second place in the support final, providing a confidence boost in his first event since returning to competition from a knee injury sustained in February.
Hughes’ achievements today impressed Australian Institute of Sport snowboard program head coach Ben Wordsworth who praised the teenager for his off season preparation.
“He is obviously stronger and a lot fitter this season which has given him a really good opening World Cup,” Wordsworth said.
“He is definitely coming along as an up-and-coming boarder cross racer. It was a very good result for him.
“The other guys in the semi were perhaps a little cleaner in the banking and in lines which gave the others a little more speed.”
Fellow NSWIS athlete Cameron Bolton finished overall in 19th after a solid race in the first final.
Bolton led his quarter final after the first bank and according to Wordsworth “he took his foot off the gas a little in the middle of the course” and could not regain his early speed.
Dual World Champion Alex “Chumpy” Pullin elected not to compete in Montafon because of back stiffness, however, Wordsworth predicted that Pullin will compete in the next World Cup in Lake Louise, Canada, on December 21.
Olympic halfpipe champion Torah Bright, who is attempting to qualify for snowboard cross in Sochi, finished in 20th place while NSWIS athlete Belle Brockhoff placed 13th after qualifying eighth in the first round and progressing straight through to final racing.
The women’s event was won by Czech Eva Samkova, while Canada’s Dominique Maltais was second and Norway’s Helene Olafsen was third.