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!

It couldn’t get better than this for Pinturault

Alexis Pinturault won the last Giant Slalom of the season in Lenzerheide in commanding fashion. In addition to that, he also won for the first time in his career both the Small and the Giant Crystal Globe — all that on his 30th birthday. It couldn’t get better than this for Pinturault.

Photo credits: Agence Zoom & Eurosport

By Daphne Seberich

The Giant Slalom season couldn’t have ended better for Alexis Pinturault. After many seasons of coming close to winning the Small and Giant Crystal Globes, the Frenchman was due to finally bring those titles home. Already after the first run, it was almost certain that the newly turned 30-year-old would triumph in his discipline in commanding fashion.

But the titles didn’t come easily. Only 25 points separated Alexis Pinturault and Marco Odermatt for the big Crystal Globe. On the day of his 30th birthday, the Frenchman had the big task to prove himself worthy of winning the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe, as well as the overall championship.     

“I was really tired after the World Championships and struggled the last few weeks,” said Pinturault after the race. “After Kranjska Gora, I was really frustrated. And Marco was getting really good results, so I felt the pressure. Today, it was clear what I had to do – I actually felt more pressure in Kranjksa than I did today”, the Frenchman told FIS. 

Closing off the podium were Filip Zubcic in second and Mathieu Faivre in third. Another Giant Slalom 1-3 for France after Bansko in February.

Photo credits: The Indian Paper

Lenzerheide was troubled by the weather conditions all weekend long. FIS even had to take the difficult decision to cancel the speed disciplines’ finals. A very controversial and potentially disruptive conclusion, as both Overall championships for men and women, were still undecided. 

It was especially tough for Lara Gut-Behrami, who had her two main disciplines races stripped away from her to earn the Giant Crystal Globe against Slovakian Petra Vlhova. The Swiss had the chance to take the title home for the second time after 2016, but the FIS decided to not reschedule the canceled races, as stated in the finals regulations. 

Photo credits: Tio.ch

With the blistering time of 1:01.19, Frenchman Pinturault hypothecated his win and potential titles already after his first run. No one could’ve come close to his achievement on the tricky Lenzerheide course. Zan Kranjec was suffering the difficulty of the Swiss slope, crossing the finish line 1.48 seconds behind Pinturault.

Marco Odermatt was in big trouble after his run. 1.66 seconds of delay only secured him the last spot in the rankings. He had a lot of catch-up to do to have a chance at the globe, but the Swiss is famous for his comebacks to the top positions. He never scored worse than fifth place during the whole Giant Slalom season. 

Filip Zubcic, who mathematically still had the chance at the Small Crystal Globe, was the best after Pinturault at the finish line, dethroning Kranjec from second place. The Bansko winner and Cortina 2021 World Champion Mathieu Faivre was not on his A-game. Over 1.53 seconds of delay towards his invincible teammate didn’t score him the best possible result ahead of the second run. 

Second in the last Giant Slalom of Kranjska Gora Loïc Meillard was the first athlete to exit the race prematurely. A hole on the course deviated his path and made him lose control over his skis. The not optimal conditions of the course debilitated the Swiss’ performance on home soil. 

Photo credits: Taiwan News, News Beezer, Agence Zoom, Rai Sport, LaPresse.ca and Taiwan News

Thibaut Favrot had the same mishap as Pinturault in the first Bansko race. He lost one of his poles mid-race and still managed to score third place with a 1:31 second of delay. The Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom silver medalist Luca De Aliprandini had his best performance in the World Cup season, managed to dethrone Favrot from provisional third place. 

The former holder of the small Giant Slalom Crystal Globe Henrik Kristoffersen was struggling to finish his run. He was the first athlete to do worse than Marco Odermatt. All descended athletes still had a chance at a podium, as the times were not much apart from each other. 

Stefan Brennsteiner was the surprise of the first run being the only one to get under the second of delay at the finish line. On the other hand, Marco Schwarz, troubled by back pain, couldn’t score a good result, placing provisionally last. 

Photo credits: Krone.at

The 2021 Junior World Champion Lukas Feurstein kicked off the second run after the inversion of twenty, setting the bar for the other competitors with a time of 1:14.96. Manuel Feller managed to beat the young Austrian’s time but wasn’t very satisfied by his result as it was just a slight improvement from the best time scored by Feurstein. Although his run was characterized by a major mistake at the end, Adam Zampa took over the lead of the race.

Giovanni Borsotti incremented his advantage intermediate by intermediate, crossing the finish line 1.39 seconds ahead of the provisional leader Zampa. Marco Schwarz dethroned the Italian by beating his time by only one-hundredth of a second. Soon after, German Stefan Luitz improved the Austrian’s best result by 34 hundredths. Henrik Kristoffersen then put the short leadership of Luitz to an end.

Marco Odermatt had to face the toughest challenge of his career to date: recover over 1.66 seconds against first-run leader Pinturault. He increased his advantage over Kristoffersen in the first section of the course, but the mellow part of the slope decreased his speed dramatically. The result of his run was not what he expected, finishing in third behind Kristoffersen and Luitz. Teammate Gino Caviezel then took over the lead with a seven-hundredths advantage over the Norwegian.

Photo credits: Archyde

Frenchman Mathieu Faivre blew it out of the park with his incredible performance of the second run. 79-hundredths allowed him to place provisionally in first. His teammate Favrot was just 59 hundredths behind him in second. De Aliprandini then dethroned the French to the runner-up position.

Filip Zubcic had the run of his career. He incremented his advantage over Faivre intermediate by intermediate. One hundredth at the finish line allowed him to take over the leadership of the race. 

Alexis Pinturault did what he had to do at the end of his run and became on his 30th birthday the winner of the race, the Giant Slalom Small Crystal Globe and the Overall Crystal Globe earner, the biggest achievement for a skier’s career. These achievements were a long time coming for the Frenchman, as his past seasons were mainly dominated by martian Marcel Hirscher. Last year, he had a shot at the Overall title as well, but the cancellation of the remaining races of the 2019/2020 season due to the ongoing pandemic cut his chances short. 

Photo credits: The Indian Paper

One race was still left for the 2020/2021 championships. Could Alexis Pinturault close his season off with another success?

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

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

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.

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

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

Marco Schwarz ends Austria’s Slalom winning drought

Marco Schwarz finally ends the negative streak after Marcel Hirscher’s retirement for Austria, winning the Slalom race held in Adelboden and earning the red bib from teammate Manuel Feller.

Photo credits: Tiroler Tageszeitung & Getty Images

By Daphne Seberich

Austria’s back. After almost two years, an Austrian skier stands on the highest step of the podium of a technical ski discipline. The last win dates back to the 29th of January when a skier named Marcel Hirscher triumphed in Schladming on home soil. Marco Schwarz finally ended the “Wunderteam’s” curse, a drought that lasted too long for a country whose national sport is Alpine Skiing. The famous Adelboden cow’s bell trophy awarded to Schwarz boosted him in the Slalom standings, where he now is leading. 

For only 14 hundredths of a second, Linus Straßer missed out on a back-to-back win after earning his first Slalom trophy in Zagreb. The German is in his best shape and stepping into Felix Neureuther’s steps. 

The 2nd runner-up spot went to a brave Dave Ryding, who is still looking to bring the first-ever FIS Alpine Ski World Cup win to England. The veteran stepped on the podium for the second time in his career after earning his last Top-three result four years ago. Only one-hundredth of a second separated Straßer and Ryding.

Photo credits: Teller Report & Eurosport

After a below-par performance by Zenhäusern in Zagreb, the Swiss was expecting more from himself at his home race. The Alta Badia race winner was the first to set a time on the slope, starting with bib number 1, which usually is an advantage in Adelboden.

His time held onto the top spot of the standings, until Sebastian Foss-Solevaag, Marco Schwarz and subsequently, Clément Noël clinched provisional first place in the first run. 

Photo credits: Rai Sport

Much was expected by Daniel Yule, who won the Slalom held in Adelboden last season. The Swiss accumulated a high delay and only placed 15th after the first run. 

Many were surprised by different athlete’s performances, in good and bad ways. Dave Ryding, the British veteran set the best run of his season, only being off 76 hundredths of a second from the top and securing 8th place in the first run.

Manuel Feller, the skier that earned the red bib of the discipline in Zagreb, exited the race at the beginning of his run, losing out on the opportunity to increase his lead in the standings. 

Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Alexander Khoroshilov stunned everyone with their results. The Frenchman proved to interpret the “Zielhang” very well, only being 41 hundredths off the fastest time. The Russian, like Ryding, displayed his best performance of this season so far. He ranked 7th in the first run. 

Photo rights: Ready Set Sport & RSI

Italy’s victory hopes relied on Alex Vinatzer, which unfortunately scored zero points for the second time in a row. He straddled one of the gates but finished his run and was disqualified after the judges reviewed the footage. 

Despite excellent conditions and perfect weather, many of the Top-30 struggled in the second run, with nearly a third of the field making major mistakes or failing to finish all together. The famed “Zielhang” in Adelboden, the steep last pitch of the course, was what ultimately made the difference for those sitting in the Top-10, with many making costly mistakes. The course set by Swede Ola Masdal brought more difficulties than the athletes thought.

Only Yule, Matt, Meillard, Straßer, Ryding and Schwarz managed to put together a competitive run, closely battling it out to earn one of the coveted Adelboden cowbells. 

Marco Schwarz came out on top and won the first Slalom of his career, despite being on the podium in a Slalom race seven times. He now leads the standings by 16 points ahead of Straßer and has deserved to wear the red bib.

Photo credits: Sports Grind Entertainment

The anonymous race by Pinturault still secured him a 129-points lead in the Overall standings ahead of Kilde. 

After hosting three races, the Adelboden weekend is in the books. The Audi FIS World Cup tour will continue in Kitzbühel at the “Streif”, the most coveted Downhill race of the season. The Wengen events were canceled due to an increased number of Covid-19 cases. The Slalom and Downhill that were planned to take place on the Lauberhorn will take place in Kitzbühel. Hopefully, we will be able to see some action in the characteristic Swiss town next year, where some of the most exciting and suspenseful events have been held.

Photo credits: FIS

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. 

Photo credits: LAOLA1

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.

Photo rights: Ready Set Sport

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?

Vinatzer’s first victory dreams shattered by Zenhäusern

Although Ramon Zenhäusern won the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Slalom race held in Alta Badia, the undoubted talent of Alex Vinatzer was the talk of the day, just missing the podium by 19th hundreds of a second after setting the fastest time in the first run. 

Complete photo gallery here

By Daphne Seberich

Ramon Zenhäusern won 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. The 28-year-old skier from the canton of Valais rose from eighth after the first run to the highest step of the podium and managed to celebrate his fourth World Cup victory. 

Ramon Zenhäusern – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

The winner said: “I gave everything in the second run. It was very difficult because it was the first race of the season for me, but luckily it worked. I was really very nervous in the days before the Slalom because I didn’t know exactly how my condition was. It is wonderful to climb the highest step of the podium because it means that the work you did has paid off”.

Two Austrian skiers made it to the podium with him, both after a beautiful rally: Manuel Feller (second after recovering 11 positions) and Marco Schwarz (from tenth to third in the second run).

Marco Schwarz, Podium – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

But the talk of the day was without a doubt the young rising star Alex Vinatzer, who surprised everyone by setting the fastest time of the first run. The 21-year-old skier from Val Gardena was leading the race but failed to make it to the podium in the second run and finished fourth, 19 hundredths of a second behind the winner and just 7 hundredths from third place. 

Alex Vinatzer – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

A big disappointment for Italy, which had dreamed for a race win with Alex Vinatzer. The Men’s Italian Ski team is not doing too well this season. Dominik Paris, the South Tyrolean Downhill star, is still recovering from the injury he suffered in Kitzbühel last year. The Men’s Italian Ski Team still has to clinch their first win of the season, whereas the Women’s Team with Sofia Goggia and Federica Brignone are proving to be worthy of triumphing. 

After winning the Giant Slalom race of the day before, Alexis Pinturault had the privilege to start first. The expectations were very high for the Frenchman, but Henrik Kristoffersen, another experienced and successful Slalom skier, beat the 29-year-old French to secure the provisional lead of the race.  

Starting with bib number ten, the young South Tyrolean Alex Vinatzer surprised everyone by beating all the big names like Pinturault and Kristoffersen and earning the lead of the first run by 0.27 seconds. 

Alex Vinatzer – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

No one managed to beat the Italian’s blistering time, not even Austrian legend Mario Matt’s younger brother, Michael, who only clinched the third spot of the provisional standings of the first run.

Another legend of the Slalom discipline, Manfred Mölgg, one of the most successful Italian skiers, didn’t come even close to the surprising time set by Vinatzer. That alone proves to FISI (Federazione Italian Sport Invernali) that the 21-year-old youngster from Val Gardena is the future of the national Italian ski team.  

Manfred Mölgg – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

Filip Zubcic, who Ready Set Sport interviewed ahead of the Alta Badia Giant Slalom second run (click here for the interview), barely made it into the Top-30 (qualified in 28th position), although there is to say that the Slalom discipline is not what he specializes in. 

Ahead of the second run, nobody could have predicted the race winner. There was Kristoffer Jakobsen, who qualified 29th in the first run that kept the lead for most of the race and finished in 12th position. The first one who managed to beat the Swede was Manuel Feller, the runner-up of the competition.

Kristoffer Jakobsen – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

Ramon Zenhäusern set an impressive time to surpass Feller by 0.08 seconds onto the highest step of the podium and beating a disappointing Alexis Pinturault (11th place) and Henrik Kristoffersen (6th place).

Alexis Pinturault & Henrik Kristoffersen – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

The last one to descend the steep and icy slope of the Gran Risa was the provisional leader of the first run, Alex Vinatzer. He made every Italian dream of a win on home soil, but the odds were not in Vinatzer’s favor, barely missing the podium by 0.07 seconds. 

This is what Vinatzer said after his race: “If someone had told me before the Slalom that I would finish fourth, I would have accepted eagerly. But now I count the hundredths of a second and I realize that I was really close. I only needed to improve by seven hundredths to reach the podium and I think that it actually was within my reach. I tried to attack on the slower snow, but I didn’t make it. Anyway, congratulations to the organizers because the slope was perfectly groomed and this is evidenced by the fact that many managed to do well in the first run even with high bib numbers. Now, with today’s injection of energy, I hope to do well also in the 3Tre race.”

Alex Vinatzer – photo credits: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport

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. Hopefully, there will be fans back on the stands next season, when the best skiers from all around the world will compete again to earn the title of “Gran Risa conquerers”.

Gran Risa, Alta Badia – photo rights: Daphne Seberich for Ready Set Sport