Charlotte Bankes is setting her sights on the Snowboard Cross World Cup crown in Reiteralm ©Getty Images

Britain’s Charlotte Bankes produced the fastest time in qualification at the International Ski Federation Snowboard Cross World Cup event in Reiteralm in Austria as she looks to close in on the women’s crystal globe.

Bankes holds a 79-point lead at the top of the standings and could claim the title on Saturday (March 12) should she increase the gap between herself and Chloé Trespeuch of France by a further 11 points.

The 26-year-old world champion has won three of the six World Cup legs this season and looks in fine form as she seeks to add another.

She registered a time of 1min 8.45sec in qualifying today to finish at the top of the leaderboard from Olympic gold medallist Michela Moioli of Italy who clocked 1:09.90.

Germany’s Jana Fischer sealed third place with 1:10.84, while Audrey McManiman of Canada and Faye Gulini of the United States also made it into the top five with 1:11.02 and 1:11.14 respectively.

Trespeuch, who has finished second at the past three World Cup stages, came eighth with 1:11.66.

Canada’s Olympic silver medallist Éliot Grondin topped the men’s qualification rankings after completing the course in 1:05.01.

Éliot Grondin continued his fine form with a strong showing in the men's qualification run ©Getty Images
Éliot Grondin continued his fine form with a strong showing in the men's qualification run ©Getty Images

Italy’s Lorenzo Sommariva finished second with 1:01.65, while Switzerland’s Kalle Koblet came third with 1:05.83.

Germany’s Martin Nörl and Austria’s Olympic champion Alessandro Hämmerle - who are separated by just 20 points in the Snowboard Cross World Cup standings - made it into the top five after clocking 1:06.02 and 1:06.08 respectively.

Reiteralm is also set to host the next stage of the Ski Cross World Cup season, with men’s and women’s qualifying due to be held tomorrow.

Switzerland’s Ryan Regez will be eyeing a third successive victory after back-to-back wins in Idre Fjäll in Sweden in January.

He sits on 477 points, level with France’s Terence Tchiknavorian going into the final two events, while Frenchman Bastien Midol is also in contention on 441.

It will be the first Ski Cross World Cup contest since the Winter Olympics in Beijing where Regez and Sweden’s Sandra Näslund won the respective men’s and women’s titles.

Näslund has won nine of the 10 World Cup events this season to secure the overall crown, with her only loss coming in the Swiss town of Arosa in mid-December.