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.

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