Canadian snowboarder Eliot Grondin smiles with trophy after finishing second at the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup i Sierra Nevada, Spain.© Miha Matavz/FIS
© Miha Matavz/FIS

Eliot Grondin battles to back-to-back World Cup snowboard cross silvers in Spain

After securing silver on Saturday, Eliot Grondin returned to the slopes in Sierra Nevada on Sunday to continue his strong season on the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup circuit and claim a second straight silver medal.

The 22-year-old Canadian finished behind France’s Merlin Surget, but ahead of Austria’s Jakob Dusek in the big final.

Grondin was leading Surget into the second bend of the big final, with the two going helmet-to-helmet through the middle section before the French rider edged ahead the Canadian at the final turn. All four riders in the big final crossed the line within one third of a second.

“Today was super-tight racing, quite a bit different from yesterday because we could actually see the track properly,” Grondin joked after landing his seventh podium finish this season.

While Grondin fell short of the top step this weekend, his grip on a first Crystal Globe tightened with an important lead of 301 points. His nearest challenger, Alessandro Haemmerle, crashed out on Saturday before finishing ninth overall on Sunday. With five races to go, the Canadian knows two more wins will guarantee him a first Crystal Globe of his career.

“Now I’ll go to the beach in Malaga and rest for a few days before we get back to it next week in Italy,” Grondin said. “So it’ll be a few days a bit more chilled, and then we go full gas again until the end.”

In addition to the two silver medals won this weekend, Grondin has raced to four World Cup gold medals in Les Deux Alpes, St. Moritz, and Gudauri, as well as a bronze medal from Cervinia.

For Grondin, the podium not only continues a strong campaign in 2023-24 but brings him to 16 podium appearances through his 52 career starts, with Sunday’s race being the fifth time he has stood on the second-highest step of the box. 

With action wrapped at the Spanish course, the world’s best snowboarders look towards the last three stops of the season. Next up snowboarders will compete in Cortina d’Ampezzo from March 8-9, before also hitting Montafon, ahead of the season finale on home snow in Québec at Mont St. Anne.

Grondin secured sixth World Cup medal of the season

Previously on the slopes in Sierra Nevada on Saturday morning, Grondin rode his way to the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup podium for the sixth time this season. 

The 22-year-old finished second, only behind Germany’s Leon Ulbricht, who took his first career victory, while beating American Jake Vedder, who secured his fourth World Cup podium and second of the season. 

A two-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist at Beijing 2022, Grondin began the competition in prime position, having topped the qualifying runs on Friday, and continued that form into the first two heats in Saturday’s knockout stages, winning his races in the quarterfinal and semifinal, before falling just short of the victory in the final. 

With the podium marking his sixth of the season, Grondin’s performance was the first time in his career that he had reached the top three in Sierra Nevada, and added to a campaign that has also seen him earn podium honours in Gudauri, St. Moritz, Les Deux Alpes, as well as Cervinia. 

Fellow Canadian teammate Liam Moffatt failed to qualify out of the quarterfinal on Saturday, seeing his day end with a third-place finish in the second quarterfinal heat. Meanwhile, no Canadian women qualified for the knockout stage heats.