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. 

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“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.

Linus Straßer’s emotional first Slalom win in Zagreb

Linus Straßer conquers Zagreb’s slope and wins for the first time a Slalom race in his career. The Austrian duo Feller-Schwarz is back on the podium after the Gran Risa challenge, with the first one of the two earning the red bib as provisional Slalom standings leader.

Photo credits: insidethegames.biz & Olympic Channel

By Daphne Seberich

Linus Straßer wins at the tricky Zagreb slope for the first time in his career. The Munich native gets the Snow Queen Trophy after an incredible second run, beating the Slalom specialists Pinturault and Kristoffersen as well as provisional leader Clément Noël. Straßer ends a three-year success drought in Slalom for Germany, stepping into Felix Neureuther’s footsteps after his last win in Levi in 2017. 

“I got a little bit emotional. I don’t really realize it”, Straßer said Wednesday after triumphing in the first men’s race of 2021.

Photo credits: Christophe Pallot (Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

The Austrian duo Manuel Feller-Marco Schwarz is back on the podium after a mediocre race in Madonna di Campiglio, earning Feller the red bib for the next race in Adelboden.

“This is one of the highlights of my career, I always wanted to have one,” Feller said. “It’s hard to believe for now.”

Starting as 8th after the first run, Straßer adapted the best to the tough Zagreb conditions, where the grass was peaking through the snow, recovering seven positions. He was not the MVP though, as Michael Matt went from 26th place all the way to fourth, just missing out on a podium by 30 hundredths of a second. It would’ve been one of the most incredible recoveries to date. 

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The slope was best suited for racers used to skiing in fresh, spring-ish powder, with not much grip and speed. Croatian skiers, trained by no other than Slalom legend Ivica Kostelić, seemed to adapt the best, all of them making it into the Top-30. No other team managed to place all their athletes in the second run. 

The first athlete on Zagreb’s slope was Madonna di Campiglio winner Henrik Kristoffersen. He never quite got into the rhythm of the track set by Italian trainer Jacques Theolier, only finishing 11th after the first run. 

Pinturault, Yule and Zenhäusern (Alta Badia Slalom winner) failed to deliver as well, only placing 7th, 12th and 14th in the first run. The times were abysmally apart from the leader. Being 92 hundredths of a second slower than the leader was the best time set by the three.   

Photo credits: Teller Report, China Daily & Le Nouvelliste Switzerland

The athletes that adapted the best to conditions and course in the first half of the race were Clément Noël (last year’s winner of the Snow Queen trophy), Sebastian Foss-Solevaag and the Austrian duo Feller-Schwarz. They were the provisional Top-4 of the first run.  

The surprises of the morning were undoubtedly Filip Zubcic and Stefan Hadalin, who never placed better in Slalom (10th and 5th in the first run). Even though Zubcic made numerous mistakes in his run, the Croatian skier was only one second off the best time set by Noël. 

Zagreb was a big disappointment for the Italian ski team. 3rd place winner at the 3Tre and last year’s Zagreb’s 2nd runner-up Alex Vinatzer did not finish his run, straddling one of the gates in the middle section of his run. Mölgg and Gross did not qualify in the Top-30. Razzoli and Sala only settled for 27th and 28th place.

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Many athletes with high bib numbers made it into the second run. Atle Lie McGrath, the runner-up of the Gran Risa Giant Slalom, started 15th with bib number 44. Taking risks didn’t pay off for him, losing three positions from the first run. 

Michael Matt was the MVP of the second run, beating skiers that had an enormous time advantage against him and recovering from 26th place all the way to fourth. No one managed to beat him, not even Jakobsen, who is the king of resumption. With a 1:05 second bonus to Matt, the Swede fell at the steep part of the slope. Not giving up, he finished his run to collect points. 

Zubcic barely missed out on a provisional first place by one-hundredth of a second, yet scoring his best Slalom placement ever, finishing the race in fifth position. 

Photo credits: Romanski Photography

Only Straßer managed to set a competitive time to beat the resilient Michael Matt, albeit losing over eight-tenths of advantage to the Austrian. 

Marco Schwarz doubled his bonus against Straßer in the first half of the slope but lost 16 hundredths at the finish line, earning provisional second with only three athletes to go. 

Teammate Manuel Feller proved to be extremely consistent this season by never finishing out of the Top-4. During his run he risked everything to try to gain a significant advantage to win the Snow Queen race. Ten-hundredths of a second off the pace didn’t grant him the crown. 

Sebastian Foss-Solevaag and Clément Noël’s performances were not on their competitor’s level . Even though they had an enormous advantage over Straßer to start the race, both fell back the ranking list, losing out on a podium opportunity. 

An emotional Linus Straßer had the edge over the other skiers, with the Austrian duo Manuel Feller and Marco Schwarz to complete the podium. 

Photo credits: Teller Report

Straßer regretted that the race on the outskirts of the Croatian capital took place without fans, as almost all World Cup events over the last year.

“Normally we have a big crowd here cheering for us and now it’s just us, just the small skiing family,” Straßer said. “It’s mixed feelings but I am really happy for winning my first special Slalom event. Not having the fans next to us is weird but, still, the emotions in me are hyped up.”

The next race in Adelboden will be key for the 2020/2021 Slalom standings as well as for the Overall ranking, where Pinturault is just ahead of Kilde. Who will earn the discipline’s Crystal Globe?

Alta Badia FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Slalom 2020

Ramon Zenhäusern wins the first Slalom race of the season. After the classic Giant Slalom on Sunday, this year, the last section of the Gran Risa slope hosted the race between the rapid gates and saw the triumph of the two-meter-tall Swiss giant.

This was the end of the two days of events of the Alpine Ski World Cup, an appointment that has been cherished by South Tyroleans and by the inhabitants of Alta Badia since the winter of 1985, when the first edition was held. The event has grown year after year, becoming an icon for the entire valley and making the location itself a point of reference for ski enthusiasts.

Read here the complete article

Pictures by Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

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