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Ski racing roundup February 2018

Highlights from the run-up to the Olympics in Pyeong Chang

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Ian Huyton | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 14th February 2018


Check out this Ski racing roundup February 2018

This year’s World Cup ski racing calendar will be seen by many as the build-up to the Olympics, and more eyes will be on ski racing in South Korea than at any other time in the winter. There has been plenty of excitement on the World Cup circuit too. While familiar names have dominated the technical events, the speed disciplines are wide open with many racers in contention for a crystal globe or Olympic medal.

The last World Cup roundup took us up to the return of the tour to Europe, with the Criterium de la Premiere Neige about to start in Val d’Isere. The event opened on Saturday 9th December with a challenging GS down the Face de Bellevard, which was won by Frenchman Alexis Pinterault on home snow. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher lost time hitting a blue gate too hard in the second run but still took third place, with Stefan Luitz of Germany just beating him to come second. Hirscher was back in winning form for Sunday’s slalom, beating two Scandinavians, Norway’s Henrik Kristofferson and Sweden’s André Myhrer to take first place.

Meanwhile, in St. Moritz, the women were due to have a weekend of Alpine combined and super G. Friday’s combined saw Mikaela Shiffrin taking the lead in the slalom before fog forced the cancellation of the super G segment. Saturday’s race was a standalone super G in windy conditions. The Swiss took first and second place in front of a home crowd as Jasmine Flury and Michelle Gisin were followed by Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein. The weekend finished with more cancellations as fog put a stop to any racing on the Sunday.

The men moved to Val Gardena in Italy the following weekend, where Josef Ferstl of Germany took his first World Cup win in Friday’s super G. Two Austrians, Max Franz and Matthias Mayer, completed the podium. In the Saturday downhill, Aksel Lund Svindal continued his winning form, followed by fellow Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud. Max Franz took third for a second podium of the weekend.

It was the women’s turn to ski Val d’Isere the same weekend. Lindsay Vonn showed a return to form in the Saturday super G taking her 78th World Cup victory and edging ever closer to Ingmar Stenmark’s record of eighty-six wins. Sofia Goggia of Italy came second and Norwegian Ragnhild Mowinckel third. Vonn did not start the second super G on the Sunday, wanting to rest a sore knee before the Olympics. Austrian Anna Veith won this race with Tina Weirather and Sofia Goggia gaining more podiums in second and third.

The men stayed in Italy for technical racing where Marcel Hirscher won the Alta Badia GS on Sunday 17th December. Henrik Kristoffersen came in second and Zan Kranjec of Slovenia gained his first podium in third. On the Monday, Alta Badia hosted the first parallel GS of the season. Matts Olson took the first World Cup win of his career, beating Marcel Hirscher in the semi-final and Henrik Kristofferson in the final.

The women’s action moved just a few miles west to Courchevel on the 18th, where Mikaela Shiffrin showed she can win in GS as well as slalom. She was followed on the podium by Tessa Worley of France, in front of a home crowd, and Italy’s Manuela Moelgg. The following day the same resort hosted a night parallel slalom. Shiffrin took another win ahead of Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova and Italy’s Irene Curtoni.

The men’s night slalom was held in Madonna di Campiglio on Friday 22nd. Marcel Hirscher managed to clinch another win after a tight race, with Luca Aerni of Switzerland second and Henrik Kristoffersen third.

After a short Christmas break, racing resumed in Bormio on 28th December for the Stelvio downhill. Italian Dominik Paris’s win was popular with the home crowd while Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud took second and third for Norway. Staying in Bormio for the Alpine combined on the 29th, French all-rounder took first, followed by speed specialists Peter Fill of Italy and Kjetil Jansrud.

After their break, the women moved to Austria for the Lienz slalom, also on 28th December. Mikaela Shiffrin continued to dominate in the discipline, with second-placed Wendy Holdener of Switzerland almost a second behind. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden came in third. A day later, Federica Brignone of Italy won the GS, her first podium of the season and the last race of the year. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany came second and Mikaela Shiffrin third in a close race with less than a tenth of a second between the top three.

The men and women both moved to Oslo for the Norwegian capital’s first ever city event on the first day of 2018. Mikaela Shiffrin took first place in the parallel slalom format, beating Wendy Holdener in the final. Holdener’s 19-year-old Swiss teammate Melanie Meilard gained her first podium spot with third place. Andre Myhrer of Sweden won the men’s race with Michael Matt of Austria in second and Germany’s Linus Strasser third.

Both tours moved on to Croatia next, with the women competing first on the 3rd January. The Zagreb ‘Snow Queen’ slalom podium was an exact repeat of the Lienz one, with Mikaela Shiffrin finishing over a second ahead of Holdener and Hansdotter. Marcel Hirscher took his 50th World Cup win in the men’s slalom on 4th January, equalling Alberto Tomba in all-time third place. Michael Matt and Henrik Kristoffersen completed the podium.

The women headed to Kranjska Gora in Slovenia for the weekend, where Mikaela Shiffrin took a third win in the third race of the year, this time in the Golden Fox GS. France’s Tessa Worley took second followed by Sofia Goggia. Shiffrin gained her fortieth world cup win on the Sunday in the Golden Fox slalom, this time with Frida Hansdotter in second and Wendy Holdener third.

The next men’s races were at Adelboden in Switzerland, beginning with a GS on 6th January. The current top names found their way to the podium, with Marcel Hirscher, Henrik Kristoffersen and Alexis Pinturault taking first, second and third places respectively. The slalom on Sunday 7th was a repeat of Zagreb, with Marcel Hirscher finishing ahead of Michael Matt and Henrik Kristofferson.

Staying in Switzerland, Wengen’s Alpine Combined on 12th January saw Frenchman Victor Muffat-Jeandet take the first win of his career. Pavel Trinkhichev of Russia gained his first podium place in second and Peter Fill came third. This podium spot wins Fill the crystal globe for the discipline – the first globe of the season to be decided. Still in Wengen on 13th, Beat Feuz took victory in front of a home crowd in the Lauberhorn downhill. Aksel Lund Svindal and Matthias Mayer came second and third. The focus switched back to technical events for the third day of racing, and Marcel Hirscher continued his winning streak ahead of André Myhrer and Henrik Kristoffersen.

A modified programme in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, opened with the women’s super G on 13th January. Federica Brignone took first place, Lara Gut of Switzerland second and local racer Conny Huetter third. The downhill on the 14th January gave the Italian team a full podium, filled by Sofia Goggia, Federica Brignone and Nadia Fanchini.

The men’s turn to race in Austria came on 19th January, with a super G a day ahead of the legendary Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuhel. Aksel Lund Svindal took his first super G podium of the season to add to his downhill success, followed by teammate Kjetil Jansrud and Matthias Mayer. The downhill itself was won by Thomas Dressen, a relative newcomer from Germany. Beat Feuz came in second and 37-year old Austrian Hannes Reichelt came third. The Kitzbuhel weekend finished with Henrik Kristoffersen finally winning a race after a string of second and third places. Marcel Hirscher was second while Switzerland’s Daniel Yule took third.

Meanwhile, the women were skiing in Cortina, Italy, where Sofia Goggia took her first win in her own country in the downhill. Lindsey Vonn took second and Mikaela Shiffrin third. Julia Mancuso of the USA announced her retirement by skiing the course in a Wonder Woman costume. A second Cortina downhill gave Lindsey Vonn the win the following day, almost a second ahead of Tina Weirather. Jackie Wiles of the USA came in third. The speed series in the resort concluded with Lara Gut winning the super G on 21st January, followed by Johanna Schnarf of Italy and Nicole Schmidhofer of Austria. A final race in Italy saw the tour move to Kronplatz for a GS. Viktoria Rebensburg beat Ragnhild Mowinckel of Norway by a narrow margin with Federica Brignone third.

The last men’s slalom of the month, and the last before the Olympics, took place in Schladming, Austria on 23rd January. In the night event, Marcel Hirscher was back on winning form with Henrik Kristoffersen and Daniel Yule again standing on the podium.

The Lenzerheide, Switzerland, Alpine combined on the 26th of the month finally gave a victory to Wendy Holdener after several podium finishes this season. Marta Bassino of Italy was second and Ana Bucik of Slovenia third. Staying in Lenzerheide, Tessa Worley gained her first win of the season in the GS the day after, with Victoria Rebensburg second and Meta Hrovat of Slovenia gaining her first ever podium in third. On the 28th, Mikaela Shiffrin skied out in the second run of the slalom, leaving Petra Vlhova to take first place, ahead of Frida Hansdotter and Wendy Holdener.

The last men’s downhill before the Olympics was held on the Kandahar run in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on 27th January. Beat Feuz took another win, followed by Austria’s Vincent Kriechmayr and Italy’s Dominik Paris in a rare tie for second place. The last GS before the Winter Games followed on the 28th, still in Garmisch. Marcel Hirscher gained yet another victory. Manuel Feller of Austria gained his first World Cup podium in third. Defending Olympic champion, Ted Ligety of the US made a solid comeback in third place, returning from a string of injuries over the last two years.

The men and women both headed to Stockholm at the end of January for a city event. Nina Loeseth of Norway gained her second World Cup win, beating Wendy Holdener in the final. Petra Vhlova beat Frida Hansdotter to come third. Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhäusern gained his first ever win in the men’s final with André Myhrer second and Linus Strasser.

In the final stop before South Korea, the women moved to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for two days of downhill races, beginning on 3rd February. Lindsey Vonn won both, gaining her 80th and 81st victories. Sofia Goggia came a close second in both, while Connie Huetter and Tina Weirather came third in the two races.

The 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea opened on Friday 9th February. France has already won two medals in the Men's Alpine Combined Slalom, silver for Alexis Pinturault and bronze for Victor Muffat-Jeandet. Good luck to all the skiers!

Read more from our reporter Ian on his website.