Fresh Air Podcast – Episode 5: “Jumping to conclusion”

Welcome to Fresh Air, the show that takes you from the snowy peaks of the Alps to the sunny shores of Bondi beach.

From the first A,B,C of how to ski to the X, Y, Z to the climbing on the edge. Our podcast is all about introducing you to outdoor sports. This episode will be a special one, as we will conclude the winter games season!

We will discover all about ski jumping, an incredible winter sport and tell you some interesting hidden stories that you may not know. We will jump into conclusion, we’ll get a conversation going about Beijing 2022 and finally, we will introduce you to what’s coming next in future episodes of the podcast.

It’s gonna be a high altitude, high octane and a hell of a ride. You can’t be stopped.

Join us, and come and get a breath of Fresh Air.

Fresh Air Podcast – All Rights Reserved

12 days of dominance

Mathieu Faivre completely turned his season around after the 2021 Cortina FIS Alpine World Ski Championship wins, dominating the Giant Slalom discipline. In only twelve days, the Frenchman has won two out of three competitions, scoring a podium in all of them. 

Photo credits: The Indian Paper & Marco Tacca for AP Photo

By Daphne Seberich

Bansko day two. A perfect day with perfect weather saw the reigning Giant Slalom World Champion Mathieu Faivre annihilate his competition. The Bulgarian ski resort hosted an exciting race for the athletes and viewers at home, with the Top-10 battling it out for valuable FIS World Cup points. 

After finishing in second place in Saturday’s Giant Slalom, Mathieu Faivre earned his second victory in 12 days, topping Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt by 0.75 seconds. It was the Frenchman’s second career World Cup victory as he has put together the strongest three races of his career with three straight podiums, including the World Championship gold.

Thanks to his seventh World Cup podium of the season, 23-year-old Marco Odermatt made up some lost ground in the challenge for the Overall Crystal Globe, where Bansko’s third-placed athlete Alexis Pinturault commands. The Frenchman has a 210-point lead over the Swiss. 

Photo credits: FIS Alpine

Kicking things off in the first run, the Swiss Loïc Meillard set the bar for the other competitors with a time of 1:11.45. Zan Kranjec couldn’t keep up with the youngster, setting red intermediates throughout his leg. 44 hundredths of a second of delay from the provisional leader secured him second place after two athletes.

Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom World Champion Mathieu Faivre was always behind the time set by Meillard. Impressively, the Frenchman managed to recover six tenths in the lowest part of the piste, earning the provisional lead over the Swiss. Giant Slalom standings leader Alexis Pinturault disappointed, as opposed to his teammate Faivre, ending his run 79 hundredths of a second behind in third. 

Saturday’s Bansko winner Filip Zubcic, who’s only 22 points behind Giant Slalom standings leader Pinturault, had the worst possible run we could’ve imagined. At the start of the steepest part of the Bansko slope, the Croatian leaned too deep into one gate, falling with the body towards the snow. He still managed to stay inside of the course set by the Swedish ski national coach Ola Masdal, but his delay was over three seconds.

Photo credits: Narod.hr

Third-ranked in the Giant Slalom standings, Marco Odermatt had the same goal as Zubcic: beating Alexis Pinturault. The Bulgarian track, although, proved to be tough for the Crystal Globe contenders. Odermatt only managed to finish in fifth, 1.2 seconds behind the provisional leader Faivre. Frenchman’s teammate Thibaut Favrot then dethroned the Swiss after his run by being one-hundredth of a second ahead of Odermatt.

Marco Schwarz, who managed to earn the bronze medal in Giant Slalom at the 2021 Cortina D’Ampezzo FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, couldn’t perform as well as in the Italian competition. His red intermediates throughout his run ended in a 2.45 seconds delay over French leader Faivre. 

Speaking of Italian, Luca De Aliprandini, who won the silver medal in the technical discipline on home soil, was not performing as well as in the first Bansko race. 2.21 seconds of delay only secured a provisional Top-10 finish. 6th in Saturday’s Giant Slalom event Manuel Feller, just managed to squeeze between his teammate Schwarz and Filip Zubcic in 14th place. 3.07 seconds of disadvantage from the lead was a disappointing result for the “Wunderteam” skier. 

The surprise of the first Bansko competition Stefan Brennsteiner, who managed to score a podium for Austria in Giant Slalom for the first time after the Hirscher era, scored a Top-10 finish. 

Photo credits: FIS Alpine

Same Torsti, who was the bib number 48 wearer and managed to qualify for the inverted session, started the second leg as first. Alex Hofer, who scored a first Top-30 career finish, managed to earn the provisional lead from Finn Torsti by 51 hundredths. A struggling Victor Muffat-Jeandet had to be content with only second place after his run. 

Veteran Manfred Mölgg had his comeback, beating his South Tyrolean teammate Hofer by 63 hundredths of a second. Hannes Zingerle, who I interviewed in the Alta Badia race in December (click here for the full video interview), had a really strong performance. He managed to recover a two-tenths disadvantage to finish in first. A provisional 1-2-3 podium result for Italy, until Ivan Kuznetsov from Russia took over the lead of the race. 

Swiss Daniele Sette blew it out of the park, crossing the finish line with over 8 tenths of a second ahead of the Russian leader. But his biggest threat was Filip Zubcic, who was set to make a strong recovery to score a Top-10 finish. The goal was to reach ninth place to not lose out on too many points for the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe contention. Unfortunately, Zubcic made a very costly mistake in the final part of the slope that prevented his comeback. His performance was only good enough for second place. 

Photo credits: Daniele Sette

The Swiss provisional leader Sette recovered over eight positions in the second run, a remembrance of Stefan Hadalin’s performance on Saturday. He beat successful athletes like Filip Zubcic, Manuel Feller and Stefan Luitz. His leadership came to an end, as Marco Schwarz crossed the finish line 4 hundredths ahead of Sette’s best time. 

Even though Gino Caviezel suffered from a critical mistake in the top part of the course, the Swiss was setting green intermediates throughout his run. The last section of the piste was unfortunately not fast enough to dethrone the Austrian provisional leader. Similar problems occurred to Luca De Aliprandini, who was set to take over the leadership, but too many mistakes prevented him to do so. He finished his run in ex aequo with Caviezel in third. 

Photo credits: Hola News & NeveItalia

Henrik Kristoffersen managed to end his attempt one-tenth ahead of Schwarz, but Austrian teammate Stefan Brennsteiner set the perfect run, serving over one second to the Norwegian superstar. His impressive Bansko weekend proved to be the “Wunderteam” athlete’s revelation. Even Alta Badia podium scorer Justin Murisier couldn’t keep up with Brennsteiner’s performance. 

Marco Odermatt, who never finished worse than fifth this season in Giant Slalom, didn’t disappoint. 39 hundredths earned him the honor to sit on Audi’s red leader chair. The goal was to recover 4 tenths over Alexis Pinturault, who was third after the first run. He came very close to that result. Favrot and Kranjec couldn’t beat Odermatt’s performance, securing a Top-4 outcome ahead of the Giant Slalom standings leader. 

Alexis Pinturault had to be ahead of the Swiss to secure his position in the rankings. His run was mind-blowing, as he seemed to almost lose both his poles like in the first Bansko event. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the performance was only good for second place, 0.09 seconds behind the Swiss leader. 

Video credits: FIS & Infront Sports & Media AG

With over 1.2 seconds of advantage over the provisional leader Odermatt, Mathieu Faivre had an easy task and he never gave the impression of any possibility of losing the race. 0.75 seconds at the finish line secured him the win. In only two days, Faivre scored 180 points valid for the standings. 

Video credits: FIS & Infront Sports & Media AG

The rankings are extremely close when it comes to the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe. The same two men of the Overall standings are battling it out with only 25 points between them. Trailing behind is Bansko’s Saturday event winner Filip Zubcic with a 64-point deficit from the top of the leaderboard.

The Giant Slalom athletes will have one last chance at victory in Kranjska Gora before the finals taking place in Lenzerheide from March 15th-21st. Who will have the upper hand in this three-way battle to the top? 

Photo credits: Samuel Truempy for PHOTOPRESS

The ultimate speed machine

Lara Gut-Behrami can’t stop and won’t stop winning. The ultimate speed machine scored back-to-back wins in Val di Fassa, securing her lead at the top of the Overall standings. 

Photo credits: Eurosport & Alessandro Trovati for AP Photo

By Daphne Seberich

Another day, another victory for Lara Gut-Behrami. The Swiss speed athlete dominated the second Downhill race in Val di Fassa, Italy. The Passo San Pellegrino course, which hosted the 2019 FIS Alpine Junior World Championships, was a replacement for the Olympic Test events in Beijing, which were canceled due to the pandemic.

Back-to-back wins seem to be the “Gut-way” of doing things. She’s completely commanding the Super G standings, with four events out of five won in a row, not to mention her incredible World Championships gold medal in Cortina. Can she recover and conquer the Downhill Crystal Globe as well?

Photo credits: GEPA

Resilient teammate Corinne Suter managed to score a back-to-back podium result, although improving the position. On Friday’s race, the Swiss speedster earned third place. This time, she was just behind unbeatable Gut-Behrami in second, 32 hundredths off the pace. The reigning Downhill World Champion probably expected a victory from this speed weekend but can still consider herself pleased with the results. 

Concluding the top-three, Kira Weidle stood on the lowest step of the podium for the third time in her World Cup career. The German Cortina Downhill silver medalist seemed to be in her best physical condition after her breakthrough on the Olympia Delle Tofane course. 

Photo credits: FIS Alpine

To kick the race off, Elena Curtoni set the time to beat at 1:26.54. Three seconds slower than the winner’s time the day before. Jasmine Flury didn’t have a hard time beating the Italian’s performance. She took over the provisional lead of the race.

Breezy Johnson needed a podium result to still have a chance at the Downhill small Crystal Globe. A too pronounced lean towards a gate on the steepest part of the slope provoked her crashing into the barriers. A mistake that proved to be fatal for Johnson’s standings. 

The Swiss Giant Slalom specialist Michelle Gisin seemed to be ahead of teammate Flury throughout her run, posting green intermediates. Only one-hundredth of a second of advantage aided her to dethrone the provisional leader. 

2021 Downhill World Champion Corinne Suter blew it out of the park, serving her teammates Gisin and Flury over 49 and 50 hundredths of advantage. After five racers, the competition saw an all-Swiss podium, but Kajsa Vickhoff Lie ended the streak by placing behind Suter in second.

Photo credits: Twitter

Friday’s Val di Fassa winner Lara Gut Behrami was just on another planet. Her advantage over provisional leader Suter increased intermediate by intermediate. The quality of her skiing was just unlike any other. Only injured Sofia Goggia could have attempted to beat the Swiss speed specialist.  

Cortina Downhill Silver medalist Kira Weidle was skiing a clean racing line, but a little bit more aggressiveness was necessary on the Passo San Pellegrino slope. The German managed to recover over three tenths in the final part of the piste, earning a place on the lowest step of the podium.

Photo credits: Hersfelder Zeitung

After the tenth racer, Federica Brignone, the standings were in favor of the Swiss, with all of their athletes placed in the Top-6. The Italians were the worst team on home soil, being respectively all in the last three positions of the rankings.

Val di Fassa runner-up Ramona Siebenhofer attempted back-to-back podium positions. She came short of third place, losing out on Weidle’s position by eight-hundredths of a second. 

The best Italian on home soil in Friday’s race, Laura Pirovano, proved to be Italy’s only hope for a good result, placing fifth in ex aequo with Norwegian Lie.

Petra Vlhova, who sees in Gut-Behrami the biggest competition and threat for the Overall Crystal Globe, tried to score a Top-10 finish as an attempt to not losing out on too many points against the Swiss. A 1.29 seconds delay was unfortunately not enough for a good result.

Photo credits: Sportnet – SME & Olympic Channel

107 points now separate the two contenders, with Gut-Behrami in the lead. Can Vlhova turn the tables around in Jasna, where two technical events (her specialties) will be held? And can Gut-Behrami go home at the end of the season with three Crystal Globes (Downhill, Super G & Overall)? The injured Sofia Goggia has now only a 97-points lead over the Val di Fassa winner and 80 over World Champion Suter. The ultimate showdown will be in Lenzerheide, where the big finals of this Alpine Skiing 2020/2021 season will take place from March 15th-21st. 

Photo credits: Samuel Truempy for PHOTOPRESS

Sweet, sweet redemption.

Filip Zubcic proved to be superior to everyone in Bansko as the World Cup events restarted. After missing out on a championships medal, the Croatian had his sweet redemption on the Bulgarian slope.

Photo credits: Sportschau & GEPA

By Daphne Seberich

As the 2021 Cortina FIS Alpine World Ski Championships came to an end, the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup restarted for the men involved in Giant Slalom events. This time, the competitions moved to Bansko, Bulgaria, where the tricky snow conditions ensured a fun and entertaining racing spectacle for the viewers at home.

Only one could arise victorious in Bansko, and it was Filip Zubcic. The Croatian Giant Slalom superstar, who barely missed out on a medal in the Italian World Championships, placing in fourth, came back stronger than ever to secure the second victory of the season. We can also not forget to mention the astonishing record he has set. Filip Zubcic missed out on a Giant Slalom podium only three times in eleven races. 

Photo credits: FIS

The victory came down to the wire in the second run, but Mathieu Faivre can consider itself happy with second place. The Frenchman, who was crowned Giant Slalom World Champion in Cortina, has found the perfect balance. His victory has boosted his confidence. Faivre had only scored 96 points in six races before Cortina, whereas now his record states 180 in two events. A massive improvement in only three weeks. 

Completing the podium was a surprise “Wunderteam” member, Stefan Brennsteiner, who earned his first World Cup podium in his career. After the Hirscher era, no Austrian came close to winning in Giant Slalom. Today’s revelation might be the future for the Austrian ski team.  

Photo credits: SciareMag & Österreichischer Skiverband

Kicking-off the inversed leg, Italian skier from Bolzano Riccardo Tonetti finished in the Top-30 after the first run. A total time of 2:24.19 was the bar the other competitors had to beat. Unfortunately, Tonetti’s performance was penalized by one substantial mistake that was very costly for the overall performance. Filippo Della Vite’s first appearance in the élite 30 of any World Cup event, ended in success. He had previously entered only four races.84 hundredths of a second separated him from his teammate Tonetti.

South Tyrolean skier Hannes Zingerle, who I had the pleasure to interview in the Alta Badia Giant Slalom race back in December (click here for the video interview), was happy to start in the second run. His performance was, although, not perfect. It was enough to dethrone teammate Tonetti from the podium in third. Soon after, Mattias Rönngren took over Zingerle’s position in the rankings. 

After recovering three positions, Filippo Della Vite had to surrender the provisional leadership of the race to Slovenian Stefan Hadalin, who crossed the finish line 76 hundredths ahead of the Italian. Hadalin recovered over eight positions, beating athletes like Victor Muffat-Jeandet, Stefan Luitz and Gino Caviezel.

Photo credits: Race Ski Magazine

The silver medalist of the Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom World Championships Luca De Aliprandini, who finished 15th after the first run, was losing his advantage over Hadalin intermediate by intermediate. Youngster Della Vite officially became the best-ranked Italian of the competition. De Aliprandini ended his attempt behind his rookie teammate.

Hadalin’s comeback continued as his position recovery increased to ten. Only Thibaut Favrot managed to end the Slovenian march towards the Top-10, completing his run two tenths ahead of the provisional leader. Swiss athlete Justin Murisier, who placed third in the Alta Badia Giant Slalom, crossed the finish line in the same position as in the Italian competition. Slalom Champion Marco Schwarz then replaced the Swiss on the lowest step of the podium. 

“Wunderteam” athlete Manuel Feller took over the provisional lead of the race, beating Favrot’s time by 14 hundredths of a second. Loïc Meillard, who never finished outside the Top-6, had only a small advantage over the Austrian. Unfortunately, the last part of the piste proved to be time costly for the Swiss, ending his run in third behind Favrot.

Photo credits: NeveItalia & RSI

Young rising star Marco Odermatt, who was always a risk-taker, proved that his skiing style pays off. His intermediate’s incremented drastically in a positive way recovering over 7 tenths in the second part of the course. Crossing the finish line only 11 hundredths of a second ahead of Feller secured Odermatt the leadership of the race. 

Austrian Stefan Brennsteiner was the biggest surprise of the competition. Placing fifth the first run was already an impressive accomplishment by the Austrian, but serving over 59 hundredths to Odermatt was the revelation of the day. Henrik Kristoffersen completely missed the target of getting on the podium, incredibly ending in 17th place behind Italian Della Vite, who recovered twelve positions. 

Overall standings leader Alexis Pinturault, who was going for a fourth consecutive win in Giant Slalom, had the most insane leg ever. Not even after a quarter of the run, the French superstar lost his right pole and had to continue his performance with a substantial handicap. Considering this, Pinturault ending in second place behind Brennsteiner was an outstanding performance. 

Video rights: FIS & Infront Sports & Media AG

Filip Zubcic, who I interviewed in Alta Badia as well (click here for the video interview), was on his A-game. His run was flawless and extremely fast. The already green intermediates increased section by section. Finishing his run 93 hundredths of a second ahead of Brennsteiner was a statement. He was not there to play. Provisional first-run leader Faivre had a tough task ahead of his second attempt and had to deal with a lot of pressure.

Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom World Champion Mathieu Faivre was keeping up with Zubcic’s time, but the Croatian just had another pace. The newly crowned World Champion managed to earn a podium position but couldn’t beat the incredible Zubcic. Faivre squeezed between the leader and Brennsteiner to complete the podium.

Zubcic won for the third time in his career after Santa Caterina Valfurva in December and Niigata Yuzawa Naeba in February 2020. His victory also closed the gap to Giant Slalom standings leader Pinturault, who has now only a 22-points lead over the Croatian star. The competitions are not over for the weekend, as Bansko will host a second event on Sunday. Will Zubcic aim for back-to-back victories?

Photo credits: Rai Sport

She’s unstoppable.

Lara Gut-Behrami proves to be unstoppable on the speed disciplines, especially when considering her most recent results at the 2021 Cortina D’Ampezzo FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.

Photo credits: Rai Sport & Eurosport

By Daphne Seberich 

After the 2021 Cortina d’Ampezzo FIS Alpine Ski World Championships, the World Cup restarted on a new slope for the women in Val di Fassa, Italy. The Passo San Pellegrino course, which hosted the 2019 FIS Alpine Junior World Championships, was a replacement for the Olympic Test events in Beijing, which were canceled due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the Italian venue proved to be especially fitting to one particular athlete’s characteristics: Lara Gut-Behrami.  

The Swiss athlete scored two gold medals (Super G and Giant Slalom) and one bronze in the Downhill event at the Cortina World Championships. The Ticino skier has been virtually untouchable since the beginning of 2021, especially in Super G, at which she won at four out of five events during the season. 

Today’s Dowhill event was not an easy win for Gut-Behrami, as she barely surpassed Ramona Siebehofer for the lead. Two-hundredths of a second were enough to assign the victory to the Swiss racer. Placing third was Cortina Downhill World Champion, Corinne Suter who was just 26 hundredths off teammate Lara Gut-Behrami’s pace. 

Photo credits: Agence Zoom

Breezy Johnson, who scored four third places in five World Cup Downhill races, was the athlete kicking-off the race. The time to beat for the competitors was 1:24.77. Austrian Ramona Siebenhofer seemed to race cleaner lines, which helped her increase her advantage over Johnson intermediate by intermediate. With 34 hundredths of advantage, Siebenhofer dethroned the American skier. Cortina World Championships Downhill silver medalist Kira Weidle managed to squeeze between the two racers after her attempt, finishing in second place. 

Francesca Marsaglia’s performance was not at her level. The athlete competing on home soil was expecting a better result, but 1.72 seconds from the provisional leader only secured her fourth place.

The new 2021 Downhill World Champion Corinne Suter seemed not capable of interpreting the slope the best way to deserve the lead of the race. 24-hundredths of delay behind Siebenhofer still secured the provisional second spot on the podium.

Speed discipline superstar Lara Gut-Behrami was racing for the Overall World Cup title.  The Swiss was always close to Siebenhofer’s time throughout the intermediates. It was a breathtaking finish, as Gut-Behrami managed to recover over 16 hundredths of a second of delay, finishing 0.02 seconds ahead of the provisional leader. 

Video rights: Infront Sports & Media AG

Former Downhill World Champion Ilka Stuhec, who complained ahead of the race about the easiness of difficulty of the Italian slope, was doing well ahead of the first intermediate. A mistake, although, ended her chances of winning.

Giant Slalom dominator Marta Bassino was setting the worst intermediates of all the athletes. The Italian superstar seemed not to be in her best mental shape after the criticism she encountered following the Cortina Giant Slalom flop. A 2.18-second disadvantage placed her in last. On the contrary, teammate Laura Pirovano, who placed seventh after her run, was the best-placed “Azzurra” of the competition on home soil.

Petra Vlhova, Gut-Behrami’s main challenger for the Overall title, was doing well in the first half of the race. Keeping up with Lara Gut-Behrami is never an easy task and being 1.12 seconds behind the Downhill giant was already an impressive accomplishment for the Slovakian. 

Thanks to this victory, Lara Gut-Behrami took over the leadership of the Overall standings, with over a 29-points lead over Vlhova, whose ninth-place was not enough to keep her in the lead.

Photo credits: Alessandro Trovati for AP Photo

As far as the Downhill standings concern, Sofia Goggia maintains the leadership over the standings, even though her injury prevents her from competing. The Italian skier was dominating the Downhill season when a fatal mistake in Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s Super G cut her winning streak short. It also prevented her from participating at the World Championships on home soil, where she would have undoubtedly scored a good result.

The races at the Passo San Pellegrino will continue with another Downhill race on Saturday and a Super G on Sunday, with Lara Gut-Behrami as a favorite to win them all. As the season comes to an end, the race to earn the Crystal Globes becomes tighter and even more exciting for the viewers. Who will come out on top?

Photo credits: Race Ski Magazine & Eurosport