Bronze for Bankes before Beijing

Charlotte Bankes finished her preparations for Beijing in fine style by claiming a bronze medal in the snowboard cross at Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The world champion was denied second place in a photo finish with France’s Chloe Trespeuch but despite missing out on the silver will take plenty of confidence from her final outing before the Olympic Winter Games.

Bankes came from the back in the last big final before Beijing and overtook Pia Zerkhold from Austria to move into third place.

The 26-year-old was unable to reel in Trespeuch with Italian home favourite Michela Moioli taking the victory under the lights ahead of her upcoming Olympic title defence.

The result marked Bankes’ fifth podium of a fantastic season so far which has included three World Cup wins, and she is now bidding to make it third time lucky on the biggest stage of all in China.

Having competed for France at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, Bankes will represent the country of her birth in Beijing and is one of Team GB’s best gold medal hopes after a stellar season on the snow.

“This year has been going really well,” said Bankes, ahead of the Games and before this week’s podium finish.

“I’ve had the best season I’ve ever had so I’m really happy with that – not just the results, but how I’m riding as well.

“I’m getting to the level on race day that I’m reaching in training, which is what we’ve been focusing on in the past couple of years.

“There’s always going to be a bit more pressure at an Olympics, everyone’s watching and it’s the only time in four years everyone sees our sport.

“That’s what brings on the pressure, that and trying to put on the best show for all those people watching, those who have got up early to watch back home.

“On the other hand, the race itself is the same as a World Cup – all the best girls will be there bringing their a-game. I’ll give my best on the day and won’t give up until I cross that finish line.”