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 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