The Erzurum event becomes the first ever Turkish ski resort to host a Snowboard Cross Word Cup and therefore a new venue for Australia’s strong team that includes Alex Pullin, Adam Lambert, Cam Bolton and NSWIS riders Josh Miller, Matt Thomas and Adam Dickson.
Jarryd Hughes is sitting Turkey out, electing instead to train in Whistler, Canada.
“We’ve never raced there,” Head SBX coach Ben Wordsworth said about Erzurum. “There won’t be a great deal of snow and we think the course will probably be something close to Cervinia (Italy).”
Pullin, who won double gold in Argentina at the start of the season and a bronze at Cervinia late last year, is an athlete making smart decision says Wordsworth.
“Chumpy is in a good place - a really good place. He didn’t have the results he wanted in December. He wanted to win one of the three races he had, but he managed to pull together some good results and bounced back.”
Coach and athlete have been working together for eight years, with Wordsworth seeing a positive shift in Pullin going towards PyeongChang.
“He’s an older athlete. His decision making is better now and more adaptable to all the situations and he is extremely talented.”
“He is good at reading race situations, getting into heats and coming out the other end at the final - better than what I’ve seen in the past.”
“Certainly, Chumpy is making good decisions in his racing and it shows. Argentina was back to back (gold). Val Thorens was not so great and then Cervinia (with bronze). All those decisions make the difference in the long run.”
“One of the big decisions is to stay healthy. (It’s about) racing to your potential.”
According to Wordsworth, Lambert has fitted into the SBX team with ease.
“Lambo’s a good snowboarder and good racer. His results have shown that over the past two seasons,” Wordsworth said.
“There was silver at Val Thorens and he knows what he wants. Lambo is in the sport to have a career and he wants to win races. That’s what drives him – there’s nothing else he’s in it for.”
“He’s the perfect athlete. He wants results and has fitted in really well - good to travel with and fits into the group. Just got on with it, got results and tried to keep it pretty simple.”
Australia is looking to qualify four men to PyeongChang and with a strong team, Turkey is the last event to cement a place – a goal that will be high on Cam Bolton’s to do list.
“It was good for Cam being in the top again (Cervinia with a tenth place),” Wordsworth said. “He’s got the skills and we want to see him push toward the small final and final and believe he can do it. It was a super close race in Cervinia.”
“Turkey is the last qualifying. The other three have an opportunity. Should be an interesting race,” he added.
Qualifiers for the Erzurum World Cup stop are on Friday, 19 January from 6.30pm (AEDT).
Finals start at 6.30pm (AEDT) on Saturday.
Live timing links for qualifiers and finals, can be found here
Follow OWIA Twitter for updates here and watch the Finals live on Eurosport from 6.30pm on Saturday, 20 January.