The right moment to shine

Sebastian Foss-Solevaag went from maiden victory in Flachau to World Champion all in one month. The Norwegian’s chose the right moment to shine at Cortina’s Druscié slope.

Photo credits: Solo Nieve & Nevasport.com

By Daphne Seberich

All good things eventually come to an end. The Men’s Slalom event was the grand finale of the Cortina D’Ampezzo 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. The Italian scenery that hosted the biannual FIS Alpine World Ski Championships has been framed by unparalleled beauty and colored in by some of the most spectacular performances seen in ages, from both the favorites and the underdogs. But it will also be remembered for the two weeks in which the rule book was poured over and read by more people than in the history of the sport. 

Knowing that the snow on the course was at its limit, FIS already announced the night before the race that instead of the Top-30 starting in reverse order for the second run, it would be limited to the Top-15. The move set up a dramatic first run as the racers aimed to be in the all-important and exclusive Top-15. It also set up a dramatic second run, with everyone within one second of each other in the fight for the gold medal.

Sebastian Foss-Solevaag caught the right opportunity to be in peak performance. The Norwegian scored his second-ever career win in Cortina, after his maiden win in Flachau one month ago. 

Video rights: SRF and Infront Sports & Media AG

“It’s a dream, two golds in Cortina. That’s incredible,” Foss-Solevaag said, “We had too many crashes, too many injuries,”. “With a small team, we have two gold medals, that’s very good.” 

The Norwegian Ski team was missing Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Adrian Smiseth Sejersted, Lucas Braathen and Atle Lie McGrath, all due to knee injuries, which mainly affected its chances in the speed events and the giant slalom. 

“It’s amazing to finish off like this,” Foss-Solevaag said, “I knew the two guys in front could also put it together, but I fought from the start to the bottom and I did it.”

Completing the podium was the surprise leader of the first run, Austrian Adrian Pertl in second place. Norwegian teammate Henrik Kristoffersen ended his leg in third. Austria had won five of the six slalom medals at the last two WSC’s, both times with retired standout Marcel Hirscher taking the gold. Pertl came close to continuing the streak.

Photo credits: DiscoveryAlps & Freenewstoday

With bib number one, Alexis Pinturault set the bar for the other competitors with a time of 52.65. Sebastian Foss-Solevaag, the second one to descend the Cortina slope, beat the Frenchman’s fastest time by 2 tenths of a second. The winner of the first Slalom of the season in Alta Badia, Ramon Zenhäusern, crossed the finish line with a 1.49 disadvantage over the provisional leader.

The winner of the latest slalom race in Chamonix, Henrik Kristoffersen, started well with a green intermediate in the first part of the track. Unfortunately, he couldn’t capitalize on the advantage he built and finished his run in second place. Chamonix race winner Clément Noël came close to dethroning Foss-Solevaag, but it wasn’t quite enough for the leadership of the race. He closed in second place.

On-off red bib wearer Manuel Feller had a disappointing performance. 1.62 seconds separated the Austrian and the provisional leader. Marco Schwarz, the favorite to take the gold medal in the race, set two green intermediates but crossed the finish line with 51 hundredths of a second delay. The biggest surprise was Adrian Pertl, who continuously increased his advantage over Foss-Solevaag. Incredulous, he managed to dethrone the leader of the race.

Photo credits: Eurosport

Youngster Loïc Meillard had high hopes for earning a medal but his run was cut short by missing a gate in the second half of the track. Victor Muffat-Jeandet straddled one of the gates, terminating all hopes for a positive result. Brit Dave Ryding was the third athlete in a row to end his attempt prematurely.

Zagreb Slalom winner Linus Straßer never attempted to tackle Pertl in first place. Crossing the line 1.71 seconds behind the leader still granted him the tenth position. Croatian ski star Filip Zubcic, who won a silver medal in the Parallel discipline in Cortina, crossed the finish line two seconds behind the leader. 

The biggest surprise of the first run was Alex Vinatzer. After not scoring any points for five races in a row, the South Tyrolean blew it out of the park performing when it mattered. Throughout his run he managed to stay close to Pertl’s time, ending in second place. 

Photo credits: Alexis Boichard for Agence Zoom & Getty Images

Kristoffer Jakobsen’s run seemed to not be enough for a top position, building up his delay throughout his performance. Incredibly, he caught up his gap and crossed 18 hundredths of a second behind Pertl in fourth. 

Stefano Gross was having the best run of his season, setting green intermediates section by section. Unfortunately, his outstanding performance didn’t convert into a good placement, as he straddled one of the gates. Maybe he could’ve taken over the leadership if he finalized his run. 

Due to concerns regarding the high temperatures in Cortina, FIS decided to invert only the Top-15 instead of the regular 30. To start the second leg was Luke Winters, who unfortunately straddled a gate and DNF’d. The first to complete his run was Istok Rodes from Croatia, setting the bar for the other competitors. Mario Matt seemed to have a good rhythm for the course set by his trainer Marco Pfeiffer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to earn the provisional leadership.

Photo credits: Fantaski.it

Slovenian Stefan Hadalin set fastest the fastest time intermediate by intermediate but only crossed the finish line in second place. Daniel Yule did what he had to do and secured the provisional lead 14 hundredths of a second ahead of Rodes.

Shockingly, the favorite to take the win Marco Schwarz straddled a gate and ended his run in a DNF. His performance until that point was impressive, increasing his advantage over Yule intermediate by intermediate. Unfortunately, he couldn’t capitalize and earn a medal.  

Alexis Pinturault seemed not to have what it takes to overcome the provisional leader, setting his time 28 hundredths behind Yule in third place. However, who managed to dethrone the provisional leader was Henrik Kristoffersen crossing the finish line 76 hundredths ahead of the Swiss.

Photo credits: Chronicle Telegram

Kristoffer Jakobsen, who was looking for the first career podium in Slalom, straddled a gate, cutting his run short. An unfortunate mishap. Sebastian Foss-Solevaag kept his 22 hundredths of a second advantage over Kristoffersen and even increased it in the second half of the track, crossing the finish line 46 hundredths of a second ahead of teammate Kristoffersen. 

Italy held their breath for the time Alex Vinatzer skied. At every intermediate he had more insecurities, making little mistakes over and over. His times became red and worsened until he crossed the finish line 1.2 seconds behind Foss-Solevaag in third place.

The leader of the first leg Adrian Pertl was happy to score a silver medal, consolidating the podium with Foss-Solevaag winning gold and Kristoffersen bronze. 

With the final Slalom race, the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships came to an end. Thanks to Pertl’s victory today, Austria came away as the most successful nation in the medal table with five gold medals, one silver and two bronze. The Swiss finished second in the medal hunt with three golds, one silver and five bronze medals. Now the World Cup returns to center stage with the next stop in Bansko (Bulgaria) this upcoming weekend.

The Austrian’s Kitzbühel triumph

Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr triumphed on home soil, earning his first win of the season.

Photo credits: Eurosport & Getty Images

By Daphne Seberich

The tables have turned for Vincent Kriechmayr. Sunday’s bad luck, as a gate fell right on the binding of his skis as he was riding the snow downhill at 130 km/h, was soon forgotten. The Austrian raced to his first Super G FIS Alpine Ski World Cup win of the 2020/2021 season on Monday with a blistering run in Kitzbühel.

The Åre Ski World Championships Super G bronze medalist clocked a time of 1:12.58 on home snow, which was also enough to move him on top of the discipline’s standings after a second place in Bormio back in December.

“Today I had a really good race. I’m really proud of my skiing.” 29-year-old Kriechmayr told FIS. “Last year I missed the Crystal Globe by three points, now I just want to ski my way.”

Photo credits: El Mundo Deportivo

Kriechmayr beat Swiss Marco Odermatt into second place on the Austrian slope. The 23-year-old Swiss skier, a relative newcomer to the speed discipline, finished 0.12 seconds behind the winner, earning his fourth podium of the season.

Another Austrian and double Olympic gold medalist Matthias Mayer, bagged his third podium of the Kitzbühel race weekend, completing the podium to go with second and third-place finishes in Friday and Sunday’s downhills. The Super G specialist equals legend Aksel Lund Svindal for podium finishes on the Hahnenkamm.

The icy Kitzbühel Super G took place on the Streif-Alm. Every year the best skiers on earth compete to win the coveted chamois trophy, the symbol of Kitzbühel. The layout of this Super G was very direct and straight. Mistakes were not allowed.

The first athlete to start was Austrian Christian Walder. 1:13.28 was the time to beat. Christof Innerhofer attempted to challenge the benchmark. He had an impressive result at the Sunday Downhill race placing fourth. The South Tyrolean took many risks, which resulted in red intermediates. He fought and had his comeback to cross the finish line with 11 hundredths of a second ahead of the Austrian.

Marco Odermatt’s strong performance on Sunday gave him more confidence approaching the Streif-Alm. He did not disappoint and seemed to feel comfortable on the Austrian slope. Odermatt earned the provisional lead with 0.47 seconds of advantage towards Innerhofer. 

Photo credits: laRegione & Le Matin

Sunday’s runner-up Johan Clarey fought for a back-to-back podium result, but a massive delay of 1.58 seconds from the lead placed him last. Bib number 5 athlete Vincent Kriechmayr, who was misfortunate in the second Hahnenkamm-race, blew everyone out of the water and served 12 hundredths to provisional leader Odermatt. 

Kjetil Jansrud, the winner of the 2020 Kitzbühel Super G, has had a disappointing World Cup weekend. His run ended prematurely, having missed a gate. An 18th and 26th place at the Streif competitions and the latest DNF, made him lose out on crucial points for the standings. 

Second and third-place Hahnenkamm-race winner Matthias Mayer set the bar high when it came to expectations. In 2017 he conquered the Streif-Alm, but this race was not on his usual level. Taking risks on the icy slope was necessary, but making mistakes was not accepted. He only managed to secure a spot on the lowest step of the podium after nine racers. 

Photo credits: Eurosport

Loïc Meillard came racing at the Kitzbühel slope without any training and practice runs and it showed. His time was abysmally apart from the top. 1.41 seconds of delay placed him provisionally in sixth place.

Overall standings leader and technical disciplines specialist Alexis Pinturault had to cope with the same conditions as Meillard. He attempted to race at the Kitzbühel slope without any training and practice runs as well. For the Frenchman, competing in the Super G is necessary to earn points to secure his lead in the rankings. Pinturault just finished behind the Swiss in seventh position. 

Austrian naturalized German skier Romed Baumann has had an incredible weekend on the Streif so far but made too many mistakes during the Monday Super G, only managing to squeeze between Meillard and Pinturault in seventh.

Dominik Paris, the reigning Super G World Champion and winner on the Streif-Alm in 2015 has not had the best start to his run. 84 hundredths of a second delay after the first intermediate ruined his chances of winning. What a disappointment for the South Tyrolean, who had his first seasonal podium on Friday in the first Downhill event.

Photo credits: Saslong

The only remaining athlete who could have potentially challenged Vincent Kriechmayr for the lead was back-to-back Streif winner Beat Feuz. The Blitzkönig chose risky lines in the first part of the track. His delay subsequently increased intermediate by intermediate. A mistake in the final section of the slope ended in a zero-points result for Feuz.

French skier Nils Allegre was part of the most shocking crash of the day. With incredible speed coming into the first jump, Allegre lost control of his body at the landing, crashing into both protective barriers of the track. Fortunately, the airbag system the athletes have prevented the Frenchman to suffer from a serious injury.

Video credits: Eurosport & Infront Sports & Media AG

The surprises of the day were James Crawford and Stefan Babinsky. With bib number 28 and 32 they managed to place better than Super G specialists Walder and Sanders respectively in sixth and seventh place. 

The results of the day give Alexis Pinturault a 200-points lead ahead of second-placed Marco Odermatt in the Overall standings. With now injured Aleksander Aamodt Kilde out of the picture, the battle to the top seems already to be a sealed deal. Can Odermatt bounce back and conquer the Big Crystal Globe?

Photo credits: Getty Images

A full-circle moment for Paris!

It feels like a full-circle moment for Dominik Paris, who returns on a Downhill race’s podium 366 days after the knee injury he suffered from in Kitzbühel. The South Tyrolean has a second chance for an even better result in the Sunday event on the Streif.

Photo credits: Eurosport & Sportnotizie24

By Daphne Seberich

Beat Feuz is the new Hahnenkamm-race winner of the 20/21 season. But he’s not who has impressed everyone the most during the race. Dominik Paris did. 

Stepping on the podium in third place 366 days after the fatal moment for Dominik’s 19/20 season feels like a full-circle moment. At that point in time, Paris was leading the Overall, Downhill and Super G standings; his best season to date. The Streif, although, has no mercy for anyone. The South Tyrolean, who has won three times in Kitzbühel, returned at the Streif seemingly to have what it takes to challenge for a podium.

The Hahnenkamm race is the most dangerous and exhausting Downhill race of the whole FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. Every year the best skiers on earth compete to win the coveted chamois trophy, the symbol of Kitzbühel. You need to have a strong gut to try to ski down the Austrian slope. The start of the race alone, the Mäusefalle, has an 85% steepness. Most competitors fly several meters in the air before reaching the end of that section. Athletes cross the finish line with an average speed of 145 km/h. Only the best can conquer and win Kitzbühel. 

Photo credits: Kitzbühel Tourismus

A big absentee is reigning Overall champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who got injured in a fall during the Super G training in Hinterreit, Austria. Kilde was taken to a hospital in Innsbruck where it was later confirmed that he tore the ACL of his right knee, bringing his season to an end.

“It is as I feared, but as I did not hope,” Kilde told Norwegian media immediately after the diagnosis. “I am in very good hands and have people with a lot of experience around me, so everything should go well. It’s especially annoying because I’m in the shape of my life, but I will come back strong.

Kilde’s teammate Kjetil Jansrud, who started the race with bib number 1, set the benchmark for Romed Baumann with a time of 1:56.28. The Austrian, now racing for Team Germany, earned a one-second advantage over the Norwegian and beat his past teammate and favorite-to-take-the-win Vincent Kriechmayr as well. Kriechmayr set the fastest time in the second training session. 

Beat Feuz blew everyone out of the water with the fastest time of 1:53.77. A blistering run by the Swiss 2018, 2019 and 2020 Downhill champion, who has never won on the Streif.

Andreas Sander’s 95 hundredths of a second delay squeezed him between Feuz and Baumann in second place after six athletes. Soon after, Matthias Mayer took over Sander’s place, closing the gap to the provisional leader to only 16 hundredths. 

With bib number 9, Dominik Paris started very strong. He proved to not be afraid of the Streif. With only 56 hundredths of a second of delay against Feuz, the South Tyrolean star secured a spot on the lowest step of the podium. A remarkable finish for Paris. His season’s best result was a fourth-place at one of his favorite Downhill races, Bormio. 

Photo credits: Getty Images

Christof Innerhofer is still suffering from the Covid-19 after-effects. His performance on the Streif was not at his usual level, being 3.04 seconds behind leader Feuz, placing provisionally in last place.

American Ryan Cochran-Siegle topped the first training session and showed great speed in the first half of the race. A little mistake turned out to be devastating for Cochran-Siegle. After the last small jump of the slope, the American crashed into the barriers, broke through them and ended outside of the track. The rescue helicopter immediately flew him to the nearest hospital for a physical assessment. 

Urs Kryenbühl suffered from a horrific crash at 146 km/h on the last jump towards the finish line. While he was in the air, his weight transferred to the front of his skis, putting him out of balance. Falling face-first onto the snow, Kryenbühl hit the icy slope with his head and continued to roll towards the end zone with his broken skis flying everywhere. He too was immediately flown to the nearest hospital to assess his physical condition. 

Video credits: ORF 1 & Infront Sports & Media AG

After the two delays, the weather started to turn for the worse with a southerly wind creating dangerous conditions and creating further setbacks. In the end, once the Top-30 racers were down the hill, everyone was breathing a sigh of relief as the Streif flexed its mighty muscles today.

Friday’s race was a replacement for the canceled Downhill, which should have taken place last weekend in Wengen. The athletes will get a second chance on Sunday to take on the Streif. On Monday, the speed disciplines weekend in Kitzbühel will end with a Super-G race.

Alexis Pinturault’s chances of winning a long-awaited first Overall title for a Frenchman since Luc Alphand in 1997 have increased significantly, thanks to the Norwegian’s abrupt end to his season. The 29-year-old is currently 218 points ahead of Kilde and 277 points ahead of Swiss Marco Odermatt.

Photo credits: Alexis Boichard for Agence Zoom

Will Paris blow everyone out of the water and win the second race of the Hahnenkamm?

The weekend of firsts: Manuel Feller and Sebastian Foss-Solevaag’s dream races in Flachau

Manuel Feller on Saturday and Sebastian Foss-Solevaag on Sunday managed to fulfill their childhood dreams by winning their first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup races held in the unconventional town of Flachau. 

Photo credits: Getty Images, Olympic Channel & FIS

By Daphne Seberich

A first for Flachau and a first for Feller and Foss-Solevaag: two different first-time race winners and the first Men’s races taken place in the Salzburg area. After the announcement of the cancelation of the Wengen competitions, FIS first decided to organize the postponed events on the Streif before settling for the slope that just had held the Women’s Slalom contest.

The last-minute Slalom events held in the Austrian town, a destination well known for its Women’s World Cup Slalom race, showcased the diversity and competitiveness of this year’s Crystal Globe contenders. Since the before-Hirscher-era, there hadn’t been such an undecided race to the title.

Photo credits: Ski Nordique

After Marco Schwarz’s win in Adelboden, Manuel Feller was deprived of the red bib after only one race, having straddled one of the gates in the first run. Only one point separated the two Austrians, the favorites to clinch the Slalom title. 

He then bounced back in Flachau’s first race, earning the victory and regaining the scarlet bib he deserved. Clément Noël and Marco Schwarz completed the podium, respectively being 43 and 70 hundredths of a second behind the leader.

Photo credits: Teller Report

Feller ranked third after the first run, only being 0.25 seconds off the pace as, for the third time this season, Clément Noël was the top racer qualifying for the Top-30. Laying down the fastest time in the second run, Feller jumped into first place and held onto victory.

Today’s second-place finish was the first podium for the Frenchman this season. It was still a frustrating result, as he continued to deliver the best performance in the first run but loses out on a better ranking after his second run.

Adelboden-winner Marco Schwarz held onto the podium position, only missing out on a trophy at Madonna di Campiglio’s night race this season. It was the 12th career podium for the Austrian.

Feller was always close to the victory this season, earning two second-place finishes in Alta Badia and Zagreb. In total, it was the sixth career Slalom podium for the 28-year-old.

Photo credits: Eurosport & Mundo Deportivo

Sunday’s race was a good pick-me-up for the Norwegian ski team. Lucas Braathen and Atle Lie McGrath’s injuries handicapped the Scandinavians substantially for the Nations Cup race against Austria and Switzerland. Their star skier and last year’s Overall standings winner Aleksander Aamodt Kilde announced his retirement from this year’s title contention as well, suffering a knee injury during a training session for next week’s race in Kitzbühel. 

It took 86 World Cup starts, but in the end, he finally got his maiden victory. Norwegian Sebastian Foss-Solevaag dominated the slope in Sunday’s Slalom in Flachau to claim his first career win.

Foss-Solevaag debuted in Levi’s 2012 World Cup event and had four podiums under his belt before his life-changing placement in Austria. The 29-year-old always fell short of victory, but the second Slalom race in Flachau was a clear statement, earning a crushing 0.76 triumph over Austrian Marco Schwarz. Sebastian Foss-Solevaag is finally a race winner. 

Photo credits: Insidethegames

Schwarz is on a roll of his own, having earned a podium in each of the last three races, including his recent second-place finish on home soil. He is now leading the Slalom standings by 65 points ahead of Feller.

Alexis Pinturault brought home his first top-three finish in a Slalom this season, being 0.95 off the winning pace.

Sebastian Foss-Solevaag skied nearly flawlessly in both runs, setting the fastest time at both attempts down the hill. After the first run, he sat at the top of the standings with Austrian trio Fabio Gstrein, Manuel Feller and Marco Schwarz right on his heels. Only Schwarz managed to capitalize on his strong first run position. Manuel Feller and Fabio Gstrein had no chance to make it into the top ten in the second run.

Photo credits: Tiroler Tageszeitung, Neveitalia & Rai Sport

Austria’s loss was Switzerland’s gain as Loïc Meillard and Luca Aerni respectively finished fourth and sixth. Although the season is only half over, the two countries find themselves already going head-to-head for the Nations Cup, with the Swiss currently holding a 604-point lead.

Leading a ranking is Alexis Pinturault, who, after his back-to-back Giant Slalom wins in Adelboden, clinched the top spot of the Overall standings, with a 218-point lead over injured Kilde. The odds for the big Crystal Globe victory are in his favor. 

Photo credits: Alexis Boichard for Agence Zoom

After an extremely busy two weeks, the Slalom racers can now catch their breath until their next event on January 26th in Schladming. Until then, the speed teams will steal the spotlight in Kitzbühel where the famous Streif races are held next weekend.

Photo credits: Kitzbühel Tourismus