Double Olympic gold medallist Pierre Vaultier led qualification in Spain ©Getty Images

Back-to-back Olympic champion Pierre Vaultier led qualification at the International Ski Federation Snowboard Cross World Cup in La Molina in Spain today.

The Frenchman, who added to his Sochi 2014 gold at Pyeongchang 2018 last month, completed his run in 42.65sec to lead a field of 32 qualifiers for the finals.

It was an ominous display from the reigning world champion who is looking for his third overall World Cup title in a row, and leads this season's standings.

Australia's Alex Pullin, who reached the six-man big final in Pyeongchang but did not finish, was second quickest today in 43.10sec.

Home Spanish rider Lucas Eguibar did enough to qualify in third position, clocking 43.37sec.

Sixteen athletes qualified for the finals by registering the quickest runs with their first attempts, with the remaining 16 needing a second bite of the cherry to seal their progression.

In the women's event, France's Charlotte Bankes was quickest in 45.94sec after winning the small final at Pyeongchang 2018.

She led eight automatic qualifiers after the first run, with the Czech Republic's Olympic bronze medallist and defending World Cup champion Eva Samková second fastest down in 46.08.

Charlotte Bankes was the top women's qualifier as the World Cup circuit resumed ©Getty Images
Charlotte Bankes was the top women's qualifier as the World Cup circuit resumed ©Getty Images

Another Frenchwoman was third fastest as Chloé Trespeuch, fifth in the Pyeongchang 2018 big final, stopped the watches at 46.14sec.

Italian Olympic champion Michela Moioli, who leads this year's World Cup standings, needed a second run to ensure her place in the finals with eight going through at the second attempt.

She was only ninth quickest first time around after a run of 50.65sec but she was then timed at 46.72sec on her second attempt, the fourth fastest of the day.

The finals for men and women will be held in La Molina tomorrow.

More Snowboard World Cup action will also begin, with parallel giant slalom action in Kayseri in Turkey.

The women's event will see the return to competition of Czech star Ester Ledecká, who put in a stunning performance at Pyeongchang 2018 to win gold medals in snowboarding and Alpine skiing.

She clinched a shock women's super-G victory on borrowed skis before adding the parallel giant slalom title in her more favoured snowboard discipline.

Switzerland's men's Olympic champion Nevin Galmarini is also down to compete in Turkey.