Jindabyne teen Josie Baff wins Snowboard Cross World Cup gold

Australia’s newest snowboarding world champion says her training in the often miserable weather in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains gave her the edge she needed to win her first World Cup gold this week.

Josie Baff, 19, won the open snowboard cross event at Les Deux Alpes in France on Sunday.

The 2020 Olympic junior champion from Jindabyne is the second Australian woman to claim first place.

The breakthrough means she will wear the yellow bib in the next round of the series in Italy.

“I’m very overwhelmed,” she said.

“I still can’t believe this happened.”

From village to victory

Baff is part of a new generation of athletes set their sights on the 2026 Winter Olympics.

The teenager qualified for the final fourth in sunny conditions, before fierce winds and snowfall set in, delaying the competition by a day.

For the final, visibility was low and conditions were difficult.

Baff says she’s blown away after winning the first event in the World Cup snowboard cross titles.(Supplied: Olympic Winter Institute of Australia)

She said her training in the Snowy Mountains gave her an edge over other competitors who were not used to racing in bad weather.

“It was definitely very eventful, it was very, very windy,” she said.

“When we train in Hotham a lot of times a cloud comes up and just sits there, which is exactly how the weather was, maybe a little bit more wind and a lot colder.

“I think Australia really prepares you for all-weather racing because you never know what you’re going to get, and the winter is so short and so you take those days when you can – you ride whatever the weather.”

Milestone start of the season

Baff was in the top two for the first half of the final before and hit the front to cross the line first.

“When I came down, when I got into the lead and came into the finish line, I thought, this isn’t happening, is it?” she said.

Baff said she didn’t know at the time how uncertain her lead was.

A woman on a snowboard holds her head in her hands in surprise.
Baff says training in Australia’s harsh conditions helped her prepare for the event.(Supplied: Olympic Winter Institute of Australia)

“It’s very hard to hear and as soon as I go into race mode I go into tunnel vision,” she said.

The trophy came as a big surprise.

“I was hoping the day would come, but I didn’t expect it, especially the first race of the season,” she said.

The World Cup is put on hold for three weeks at Christmas and Baff returns to her family in Australia.

“I think that might be a little secret advantage for us this year as the rest of the teams go back to winter Christmas, but we’re getting some sun and I think that’s going to be important,” she said.

The only problem now is how to take home her huge trophy.

“It’s a big, heavy trophy, which is actually going to be quite difficult!” she said.

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