Canada's Éliot Grondin topped men's qualification at the first Snowboard Cross World Cup of the season ©Getty Images

Canada's Éliot Grondin and Italian Raffaella Brutto topped qualification for the season-opening International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard Cross World Cup in Chiesa in Valmalenco.

A total of 32 snowboarders made it through to tomorrow's men's races, with the 19-year-old Canadian topping the standings by a gap of 0.34sec at the Italian resort.

All within a second of him were the rest of the top five - France's Merlin Surget, Italy's Omar Visintin, the United States' Jake Vedder and Austrian Jakob Dusek.

Germany's Paul Berg, defending champion Alessandro Hämmerle of Austria and Lucas Eguibar of Spain completed the top eight, so will all possess top-seed position for tomorrow's round of 32.

Two out of four from each heat will progress to the next round, all the way to a final.

This is the first weekend of the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup after coronavirus-related cancellations, with back-to-back finals due tomorrow and Sunday (January 24).

Raffaella Brutto looked dominant in women's qualifying ©Getty Images
Raffaella Brutto looked dominant in women's qualifying ©Getty Images

In the women's qualification, Brutto was the fastest by a clear margin - finishing 0.74 ahead of her closest challenger, Czech Eva Samková.

Samková and Australia's Belle Brockhoff were separated by only 0.03, but the top three were clear ahead of the rest of the field.

Only 16 athletes qualified from 43 in the women's event, as opposed to the 32 from 67 in the men's event.

American Faye Gulini and Italy's Michela Moioli were best of the rest, and despite not being seeded top for the quarter-finals, Moioli - the defending champion - will begin the day as the favourite.

Rounding off the top eight and also starting tomorrow as second seeds were Italy's Sofia Belingheri, Germany's Jana Fischer and Austria's Pia Zerkhold.