Manuel Feller’s how-to: end the season on a high note

Manuel Feller ended the 2020/2021 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on a high note, conquering the Lenzerheide slope in a thrilling battle for the win. 

Photo credits: Wiener Zeitung & Olympic Channel

By Daphne Seberich

Manuel Feller closed the 2020-21 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season in top form by winning the last Slalom race of the season at the finals in Lenzerheide. 

Feller, who was only in sixth place after the first run, had a nail-biting experience in the leader’s chair as the last five men descended the slope. In the end, he staved off two Frenchmen to hang on for the victory, topping Clément Noël by a slim 0.08 seconds and Overall World Cup winner Alexis Pinturault by 0.11 seconds in a very tight race.

Video rights: FIS Alpine & Infront Sports & Media AG

The small slalom globe was already awarded heading into the final race as Feller’s teammate Marco Schwarz wrapped up the honors in Kranjska Gora. Schwarz had a successful season, conquering the Small Slalom Crystal Globe and finishing in third place in the Overall World Cup standings.

Video rights: FIS Alpine & Infront Sports & Media AG

Wunderteam athlete Schwarz set the bar for the next competitors with a time of 00:52.79. The winner of the Kranjska Gora Slalom Clément Noël started on the back foot, setting red intermediates throughout his run. On the mellowest part of the slope, he managed to catch up some hundredths against the Wunderteam athlete, but it wasn’t enough to earn the leadership of the race. 

Alta Badia Slalom winner Ramon Zenhäusern attempted to dethrone Marco Schwarz, but his delay at the finish line only secured him the lowest step of the podium. Sebastian Foss-Solevaag had a disastrous end to his season, making a major mistake on the steepest part of the slope and then straddling a gate.

Zagreb winner Linus Straßer, who was not in his prime performance, still managed to stay close to the top positions, placing in fourth. Henrik Kristoffersen’s performance was sub-par, securing the last place with 1.72 seconds of delay. Manuel Feller only managed to place in fifth.

Swiss youngster Loïc Meillard was racing to secure third place in the Overall standings against the provisional leader of the race, but his performance wasn’t enough to attack the Austrian’s position. 

Photo credits: SciareMag, The Indian Paper, RSI, Rheinische Anzeigeblätter, La Razón & LeNouvelliste.ch

Cortina 2021 silver medalist Adrian Pertl had an impressive performance, dethroning Ramon Zenhäusern from the provisional podium position. Only one-hundredth of a second separated the two athletes.

Overall Crystal Globe winner Alexis Pinturault didn’t take too many risks during his attempt at the leadership of the race. 1.09 seconds of delay put him in eighth place.

Giant Slalom specialist Filip Zubcic, who I had the pleasure to interview in Alta Badia (click here for the video interview), just managed to cross the finish line in the Top-10. 

Alex Vinatzer, the Val Gardena rising star, had a great start to his run but progressively lost out on a major result. 1 second of delay put him in front of Pinturault in eighth place. His teammate Manfred Mölgg was on a roll in the most technical part of the course. A too-pronounced lean made him crash and miss out on potential points.

Photo credits: Eurosport

Kicking off the second run, the legendary French skier Jean-Baptiste Grange said goodbye to racing with a farewell performance that moved everyone. The sport lost one of the biggest Slalom champions. In his 197 World Cup starts, Grange won one Slalom title and 9 World Cup wins. He also accomplished to earn 2 World Championships gold medals in Garmisch-Partenkirchen 2011 and Vail/Beaver Creek 2015.

Video rights: FIS Alpine & Infront Sports & Media AG

Stefan Hadalin was the first one to actually compete. A time of 1:49.75 set the bar for the athletes still at the starting gate. With over 71 hundredths of advantage, Christian Hirschbühel dethroned the Slovenian provisional leader but the following competitor Luca Ärni was on fire and served the Wunderteam athlete over six-tenths of advantage.

Henrik Kristoffersen and Filip Zubic, who had a huge advantage against provisional leader Ärni, couldn’t do much to contrast his remarkable performance, finishing respectively fourth and fifth in the standings.

Frenchman Pinturault gave it all in his performance. In his attempt, he drastically increased his advantage over Ärni intermediate by intermediate, finishing his run being over a second faster than the provisional leader. Alex Vinatzer managed to be just two tenths behind Pinturault, which was good enough to beat Loïc Meilliard for second place by one-hundredth.

Photo credits: Olympic Channel

Manuel Feller was on a rocket ship. 11-hundredths of advantage brought him to the top of the standings. Zenhäusern, who was chasing the fourth consecutive podium position, incredibly made a mistake and straddled a gate. Third, after the first run, Adrian Pertl crashed as well, missing out on a podium position. Clément Noël came the closest to beating Feller, with only eight-hundredths separating the two athletes.

With a 94 hundredths advantage, Schwarz had the task to beat his teammate Feller. A crucial mistake on the mellow part of the slope ended the Austrian champion’s winning chances, who completed his second run attempt in sixth place. 

Photo credits: Olympic Channel

With all the globes decided heading into the final race of the season, the biggest storyline of the day was the duel between the Swiss and Austrian men for the Team Trophy, given to the men’s team with the most World Cup points throughout the entire season. It was a tight race, but in the end, Feller’s victory wasn’t enough to make up the difference as the Swiss earned the men’s trophy in addition to the women’s Team Trophy and Overall Team Trophy. 

Also decided in the race was the Longines Rising Star trophy, which went to Alex Vinatzer thanks to his fourth-place finish.

Photo credits: Skiweltcup.tv

This race concluded a highly contended 2020/2021 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup men’s season. What can we expect in the future from these brilliant athletes? Fans can’t wait to see them back on the slopes in the fall!

Unstoppable Marco Schwarz

Marco Schwarz can’t hold back. His physical and mental shape make him unstoppable. The Austrian wins on home soil at the Planai night race under the lights and arrives at the Cortina 2021 World Championships with an impressive podium streak. 

Photo credits: Inspired Traveler

By Daphne Seberich

It was a different feel in Schladming, which usually welcomes more than 40.0000 fans, but the racers nevertheless put on a show for the TV audience in snowy skies. 

Under the lights in Schladming, Marco Schwarz continued his strong season, winning on home soil in Schladming for his second victory of 2021. It was the sixth podium for Schwarz this season. He’s heading into the FIS World Ski Championships in Cortina with massive positive momentum.

“It’s pretty amazing to win in Schladming. It’s the classic to win. It was tough to come back from sixth place in the first run, but to win feels pretty amazing,” said Schwarz after the win.

Schwarz finished ahead of Frenchmen as Clément Noël finished in second place 0.68 seconds behind with Alexis Pinturault settling for third place.

The final top three were nowhere near the podium position heading into the second run, with all well out of range of the top three. But heavy snowfall made the conditions unpredictable for the entire field.

The technical disciplines specialized men now have one task: give their best shot at the Cortina D’Ampezzo FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2021. Schwarz, Feller and Noël are the favorites to take the Slalom win on February 21st.

The icy slope topped by fresh powder snow complicated everyone’s plans for a smooth run.

Manuel Feller was undoubtedly the one to beat after the first run. With 39 hundredths of a second advantage over second-placed Foss-Solevaag, he had the best odds to take the win at the Schladminger Planai. 

Zagreb-winner Linus Straßer had to recover from 26th place after the first run. His hopes were crushed as he straddled one of the gates after the first intermediate. 

An angry and disappointed Henrik Kristoffersen had the same task as Straßer: Recover the most time as possible against the Top-10 after the first run. A 1.04-second advantage against provisional leader Read was enough to recover some ground. 

Photo credits: Insidethegames

Filip Zubcic was the closest to challenge Kristoffersen’s lead, but a fatal mistake in the last sector ended in him crossing the line with 9.7 seconds of disadvantage. British skier Dave Ryding and Tanguy Nef had no chance to beat the blistering time of the Norwegian. The arhythmic track set by Italian coach Julien Theolier gave a tough task to the athletes. Only Kristoffersen managed to interpret the slope the best. 

Starting as 15th after the first run, Loïc Meillard ended Kristoffersen’s chances of winning. A stopwatch error didn’t declare him as the new provisional leader right away, but rewatching the footage, the Swiss was declared the new clear leader of the race. 

Alexis Pinturault was literally on fire. With an impeccable performance, the Flachau podium winner served Meillard 85 seconds of advantage. This run challenged not only the Swiss but, more importantly, the provisional first-run leader Manuel Feller. The Overall title is in his hands. 

Photo credits: Mynewsdesk

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange and South Tyrolean Manfred Mölgg, the veterans of the competition and legends of the discipline, were challenged by the tricky layout of the Planai. Both couldn’t reach the provisional podium positions. 

Red bib wearer Marco Schwarz made a statement with his second run: He is here and here to stay. No one will take the red bib away from him. Although Pinturault set the best time of the season, the Austrian beat the Frenchman to the leader position by 0.82 seconds. Clement Noël replaced his teammate soon after for the runner-up spot. 

Alta Badia Slalom winner Ramon Zenhäusern was not in his best shape. After his triumph on Italian soil, the Swiss never recovered and proved himself not to be worthy of a podium position. Quite a disappointing season so far for the Slalom giant. 

3rd place after the first run, Mario Matt’s hopes ended with a heartbreaking DNF. Sebastian Foss-Solevaag didn’t replicate his Flachau result, ending his run in fourth.

Video rights: Sportschau & Infront Sports & Media AG

The moment of truth arrived. Feller challenged Schwarz for the win. Incredibly after the first gates, the Austrian straddled one of them and granted the Planai title to his teammate. Schwarz only missed out once on the podium out of seven races and set 110 points between himself and his teammate in the Slalom standings after the Schladming event. 

The French Clement Noël and Alexis Pinturault completed the podium. After a third place in the second Flachau competition, the Overall standings leader is back on the lowest step of the podium, proving to be in the best shape of his life. 

The Cortina World Championships will be a true test for all the athletes. Who will be crowned Slalom World Champion this time?

Photo credits: Skipass Cortina