Sunday, January 15, 2017

Henrik Kristoffersen Wins Wengen Slalom

Kristoffersen continued his streak of classic slalom victories on Sunday by taking the win in Wengen, Switzerland, with a combined time of 1:43.31 seconds. Austrian Marcel Hirscher was hot on Kristoffersen’s heels in second, a slim 0.15 seconds back, and Germany’s Felix Neureuther rounded out the podium in third, 0.63 seconds off of the Norwegian’s pace.
After leading the first run, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen was able to hold on to his lead and won his 13th career slalom win. The slalom prince already took the win last year in Wengen, but due to lack of snow, the course was set on the downhill track, which has a complete different profile.
Heavy snowfall prevented the organisers from holding the traditional Lauberhorn Downhill on Saturday, but today the weather was kinder and allowed a fantastic show on the original Wengen slalom hill.
"My run was not perfect today", said Kristoffersen, "but I’m really happy to come away with a win here today with how the course setting was, so it was a good day for sure. Today was a little bit more difficult with the course being so fast and straight; I like it a little bit more when it’s turnier and a bit more difficult".
Marcel Hirscher, who was in fourth place after the first run, +0.56 behind, had to push hard in the second run and managed to grab second place.
"It is definitely a day where I can say I’m happy with eighty more points in the books", he explained. "I’m happy with the result and the skiing was not too bad, two solid runs, especially in the second run. It is maybe a half meter of difference with the time, and there is always this kind of battle between Henrik and the rest of the world and for sure, we are searching and fighting to beat Henrik because he is definitely the fastest man on earth on slalom skis".
Germany’s Felix Neureuther finished third and his constant performances allowed him to close the gap that separated him in the season slalom standings, as he is now just over 100 behind Manfred Moelgg, who finished eighth today.
"I had two did not finishes at the end of 2016, so I wasn’t that confident in the new year, so it was very important for me to be on the podium here again. I have three good results now in the new year, and Kitzbuehel and Schladming are next, so I really look forward to that", said Neureuther. "If I ski in the first run like I did in the second run, then it’s possible (to catch Kristoffersen). I wasn’t happy with my first run, I skied very passive. When you are racing against Henrik or Marcel, you can’t do any mistakes because you have no chance".
Before this race in Wengen, Kristoffersen and Hirscher were tied in the season slalom standings. Mid season, the Norwegian is 20 points ahead of the Austrian. With Kitzbuehel, Schladming, Stockholm and Aspen coming up, the battle for the small globe promises to be exciting.

Christine Scheyer Wins Downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee

Austria’s Christine Scheyer charged from bib 25 to take the lead with a time of 1:21.15, 0.39 seconds ahead of Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather. Skiing down just after Scheyer with bib 26, American Jacqueline Wiles rounded out the podium in third.
Christine Scheyer had only ever stood on a European Cup podium twice and competed in a total of three World Cup downhill races prior to the day. But she had scored in all three, with a best result of ninth in Val d'Isere, and she knew she had the potential to be somewhat fast, at least within the top 10.
"No, not that fast," she replied when asked if she knew she had winning speed. "I was fast in training, but this is amazing. ... It's great to be proud. And if an Austrian wins, I think it's the best that can happen".
Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was holding down the leader box when Scheyer overtook her, but she was still thrilled to finish the day in second place.
"It was amazing because at the start, I knew that Lara was leading and I was like, ‘Well, this could be a revival of the Junior World Champs where I won seven hundredths in front of her.' So I was trying to believe that I could win", Weirather said. "I knew it was going to be tricky just because the light changes and also Scheyer was so fast in training that I knew that she was going to be a tough one. And she did really well, so that's fine. I haven't been on the downhill podium in almost two years, so it still feels great".
Scheyer was joined on the podium in third by another first-timer, Jacqueline Wiles of the U.S. Ski Team, whose previous best downhill result was 15th and super-G 10th. Wiles made her World Cup debut in 2013 and has been working toward a career result over the past few seasons.
"You dream of it. But for it to actually happen, you know, it’s unreal", she said of her podium finish. "After a tough start to the season – of so many expectations falling flat – I really needed this, and it couldn’t have come at a better time".

Friday, January 13, 2017

Niels Hintermann Wins Alpine Combined in Wengen

It was one surprise after another in the men’s World Cup alpine combined in Wengen, Switzerland, on Friday as the home crowd was treated to a Swiss winner. 22-year-old Niels Hintermann came out of nowhere with bib 51 to take the win with a combined time of 2:56.58 seconds. Joining Hintermann on the podium were two other outsiders as France’s Maxence Muzaton finished in second from bib 32 and Austria’s Frederic Berthold was third from bib 39, 0.26 and 0.35 seconds back, respectively.
For Niels Hintermann, whose previous best World Cup finish was 21st in the 2016 Chamonix downhill, the day was something special, but the young Swiss recognized his stroke of luck to climb on top of the podium.
"I’m not that experienced in winning races, so I have no idea what’s upcoming now", he explained in the finish. "I felt good during the slalom race, I really liked it. It was tough to drive because it was pretty steep and the rollers were pretty intense … (in the downhill) the weather seemed to make a little turn, lucky for me, after me it started snowing pretty heavy again and now I’m here winning my first World Cup".
Maxence Muzaton admitted that the only reason he was racing the combined in Wengen was to get an extra run on the downhill track ahead of Saturday’s race.
"It’s an amazing day", the Frenchman said. "I never expected to be on the podium at the end, but we make an outdoor sport and today, conditions were more in my turn, so I’m happy with that. My first goal this season was the downhill. I decided to make this alpine combined only to make some speed turns. It’s pretty amazing".
For Austria’s Frederic Berthold, he also did not fancy his chances to start the day and was just as surprised as his podium-mates at the way the day turned out.
"At first, it was a very difficult slalom in the morning", said Berthold. "I tried to do a solid run, and I finished 22nd and had a good number for the downhill. The conditions got always worse, and I can’t realize that it ended with me on the podium now".
Also of note was Croatian star and 2011 overall World Cup champion Ivica Kostelic announcing that Friday’s 22nd-place finish will be his last World Cup race. The Croatian has suffered tremendous knee pain in recent years and has flirted with retirement for several seasons before finally deciding to hang up his skis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Lauberhorn Races (Wengen, Switzerland)

The 87th International Lauberhorn Races will take place next weekend in Wengen, Switzerland.
As part of the Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup this is taking place from January 13th to 15th with three events, a Super Combination, a Downhill and a Slalom races. The International Lauberhorn races are part of the the Club 5+ Alpine Classics, a union of the leading alpine ski race organizers from all over the world. It was founded 1988 upon an idea of worldcup founder and sports journalist Serge Lang. Charter members had been the "Five" Downhill classic sites in the Alps: Gardena/Gröden (ITA), Garmisch (GER), Kitzbühel (AUT), Wengen (SUI), Val d’Isere (FRA). The 1st International Lauberhorn Race Wengen took place in 1930. On November 28, 1929 along with the co-founders of the Swiss Academic Ski Club (SAS) in Berne Ernst Gertsch signed the founding document of the Lauberhorn Race. After the pioneering years (from 1924), with this race the wonderful story of Alpine ski racing really began to unfold. A story that is marked, to a large extent, by Arnold Lunn and Ernst Gertsch who guided it through many perils. It was long, difficult and often bumpy road.

On Saturday January 14th - 1967 the first ever men’s World Cup downhill took place on the majestic and nearly endless Lauberhorn run dominated by some of the most impressive alpine peaks in Switzerland – the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau - which dominate the valleys of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen and attract each year hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.
Together with the legendary Arlberg-Kandahar races, the Grand-Prix Emile Allais at Megève or the Hahnenkamm, the Lauberhorn event already represented one of the most prominent international highlights in the alpine season – also because it took place in a region considered by experts as one of the cradles of alpine ski racing in the Alps.Wengen (1274 m) is a car free resort located on a sheltered, sun-soaked terrace, 400 metres above the picturesque Lauterbrunnen Valley. The fantastic surrounding scenery is dominated by the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau massif. The holiday destination of Wengen is situated in the in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, 18 kilometres from Interlaken, the Lakes of Thun and Brienz, and close to the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn. The Jungfrau Region Ski Paradise offers 45 lifts and 213 kilometres of pistes in three different ski areas: Grindelwald-First, Wengen (Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen) and Mürren-Schilthorn, with its revolving Piz Gloria Restaurant, made world-famous by the James Bond film On her Majesty's Secret Service offers 45 lifts and 213 kilometres of pistes.

Updated program

Friday, January 13th 2017
10:30/14:00 CET Men's Alpine Combined (Downhill and Slalom)

Saturday, January 14th 2017 

12:30 CET TBC Men's Downhill

Sunday, January 15th 2017

10:30/13:30 CET Men's Slalom

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Frida Hansdotter Wins World Cup Slalom in Flachau

In Flachau, Austria, Frida Hansdotter took the fourth World Cup win of her career. She finished with a combined time of 1:51.40. Hansdotter, who has been on the podium in the last six slalom races in Flachau, loves the night slalom ambiance.
"It’s the night atmosphere", she shared. "I think night slalom is so fun, and the crowd, you can see it from the start. It’s so much fun for racing".
The Swede laid down a head-turning first run.
"No, actually I didn’t know it was that fast, but for sure I felt I had a good run. But I got a little bit scared when in the banana [delay gate] because I hooked a little bit the skis. I was like ‘Oh no!’ I didn’t get that speed over the last roller. But it was really good, so I’m satisfied", Hansdotter said after finishing the turny first-run course set with a nearly one-second advantage over Wendy Holdener. "Actually, I’m better when it’s a little bit straighter because I get more speed in, but I for sure saw it in inspection that you really need to work it every gate. So that was my only goal, so maybe that’s the secret".
In second place was Norwegian tech skier Nina Loeseth, earning her sixth career World Cup podium and her first since she earned second place in the giant slalom at Killington earlier this season.
"I kind of thought, ‘It’s all or nothing. It’s kill or be killed here,’ because it was a pretty easy course, and I felt pretty strong", said the Attacking Viking. "It was pretty intimidating, the strong girls that were starting behind me or before me in the second run, so that’s why I probably was super excited when I saw that green light".
Mikaela Shiffrin ended the day in third place, 0.78 seconds behind Hansdotter’s winning pace and tied with Holdener.
"It felt a lot better the second run", Shiffrin said. "For sure, I was disappointed with my first run, but to be honest, I try to learn from it. I really, really enjoyed watching Frida ski today. It was incredible, and it looked like she had fun and I’m really happy for her".
Wendy Holdener, who tied with Shiffrin for third place, has been a regular on the slalom podium this season, earning either second or third place in all, but one slalom when she DNF.
"It’s really exciting because a lot of girls can stand on the podium and it makes it hard for us because you have to push and go to see the green light in the finish" said Holdener, who has now collected six podiums this season in slalom but has yet to win. "I hope you will [see my best skiing] because I have a little better skiing in my bag, so hopefully I can show it".

Monday, January 9, 2017

European Mountain Travel Summit. Crans Montana, Switzerland

The European Mountain Travel Summit is a global leadership forum produced by Mountain Travel Symposium.
Northstar Travel Group (the parent company of TravelAge West) signed a partnership with the Swiss National Tourist Office and Swiss ski resort Crans Montana to support the launch of Europe Mountain Travel Summit.
This exclusive mountain travel industry event brings together over 200 senior executives for two days of networking and learning in one of the most exceptional resorts in the world.
The Summit content features market research, strategic marketing, best practices and trends - all focused on the mountain travel industry.
This international event provides an invaluable platform for attendee interaction, learning and networking, and includes pre-and-post Alpine skiing excursions in the world's best resorts.
"We are thrilled about the launch of the European Mountain Travel Summit. Extending Mountain Travel Symposium’s reach internationally is a natural progression for Northstar as we continue global expansion with our brands and events", said Bob Sullivan, President of Northstar Travel Group. "Our goal is to bring together senior leaders to discuss critical issues and challenges within the mountain travel industry, bring about solutions and, in turn, make the industry more successful".
"What is exceptionally innovative about European Mountain Travel Summit is fourfold", said Michael J. Pierson, Managing Director of Mountain Travel Symposium and European Mountain Travel Summit. "First, the exclusive nature of our attendees: C-level and senior marketing executives. Second, our global perspective. Third, our content: focused on market research, strategic marketing and best practices and trends — both worldwide and on a strategic level. And fourth, our education and networking".

European Mountain Travel Summit is the first expansion of Mountain Travel Symposium, which is now in its 42nd year. Mountain Travel Symposium gathers representatives from more than 35 countries to establish relationships, build their businesses and create a stronger mountain business community.
The inaugural event will take place at Crans Montana, one of the leading mountain resorts in Switzerland. Crans Montana is located at an altitude of 1,500 meters on a south-facing plateau, in front of the panorama of the Valais Alps.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Henrik Kristoffersen Wins World Cup Slalom in Adelboden

The slalom season is in full swing in January, with the 5th race of the season being held on the traditional Chuenisbärgli in Adelboden.
Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen took his second slalom win in a row at the venue with a combined time of 1:54.87 seconds. Italy’s Manfred Moelgg continued his strong slalom skiing this season, landing in second place, albeit a massive 1.83 seconds behind the Norwegian. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher fought his way to a third-place finish, 2.19 seconds off the pace.
Henrik Kristoffersen  +1.83 advantage over his main contenders, which is the biggest gap in slalom since 2002, and claims his 12th podium, including 9 wins, in the 14 last races he participated in.
"This was really good. This was really cool. I had a bit of luck with the light in the first run, but I don't think I had luck with the skiing. In the second run, even though it was tough, I still did really good. Today was an awesome day for sure. I don't think you can expect the same as last year, last year was pretty outstanding but I hope I can ski good, keep skiing the way I did today; as long as I can do that, I'm happy".
Manfred Moelgg, who won the slalom in Zagreb three days ago, laid down another strong performance and takes 3rd place, his 20th World Cup podium in career. The Italian broke the record of second oldest slalom winner in Zagreb and proved that experience can also be a huge advantage in the ski racing world.
"Tough race. The conditions were not so easy. Adelboden is always the same, it's difficult. Fantastic people here and I'm very happy about second place and compliments to Henrik, one second eighty, it's a lot but it was not so easy. He skied very fast in the second run".
Third place goes to Marcel Hirscher, who is now sharing the lead of the slalom standings with Kristoffersen. The Austrian had bad luck with the weather in the first run but charged the course in second run to lay down the third fastest time of second run and grab 3rd place on the podium.
"I think a third place is for today absolutely the maximum. 140 points for this weekend is not too bad, let's keep on going. Second run was nearly the same for everyone; first run was a big difference between the numbers but we are outside and this is what you have to deal with. This is skiing, not ice hockey".

Mikaela Shiffrin Took her 7th Win of the Season in Maribor Slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin claimed today her 27th career World Cup victory and second Golden Fox Award for the weekend overall. Shiffrin beat out Wendy Holdener and last year’s slalom globe winner Frida Hansdotter by 0.19 seconds by 0.31 seconds, respectively.
Shiffrin matches Ingemar Stenmark’s record 27 wins before the age of 22. She also matches American Phil Mahre, putting her in third place for all-time wins among U.S. skiers, men and women.
"When I was a kid, I dreamed about being the best in the world in all the different events, so it’s always a step in the right direction to be performing well in two, at least (...) In my career, one of the goals I want to accomplish is the (World Cup) overall. I don’t know if it will happen this year, but eventually that will be a big goal for me", Shiffrin said.
Wendy Holdener has been chasing Shiffrin all season. The Swiss skier has earned five World Cup podium finishes in slalom this season and is still looking to earn a win. Her performance was even more impressive when you consider that she has been plagued by a cold for the past week.
"I had a cold", Holdener shared. "I had to rest two days because I had pain in my throat. …Then with the race and the cold temperature and everything, I had some problems yesterday afternoon. But I’m really happy with my race that I could ski that fast and not 100 percent fit, so everything is OK".
Rounding out the podium was Hansdotter, earning her first top-3 finish of the season.
"I’ve been working so hard to get back, and I really love Maribor, so it was like a good feeling from the start, so I’m really satisfied".

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Alexis Pinturault Wins World Cup GS in Adelboden

The legendary Chuenisbärgli has a new champion! Alexis Pinturault won the Giant Slalom in Adelboden, after a very exciting second run where he beat out his main challenger Marcel Hirscher by +0.04 and Austria’s Philipp Schoerghofer who ended the day 1.94 seconds off of the pace.
With his 19 World Cup wins, Alexis Pinturault definitively surpassed Jean-Claude Killy’s French record today. The skier from Courchevel had a +0.70 margin from the first run, but he had to push hard and ski at the limit in the second run, as just before him Marcel Hirscher laid down an impressive run.
"I thought when I crossed the line that it was long enough for me today, one or two gates more and I would be maybe behind so I'm really happy about those four hundredths. It's a victory, so it's something very special. I heard the crowd but it was more or less like every time; you make the first run and then you have to make also the second run and push even maybe harder in the second run".
In second position, Marcel Hirscher writes history again, and step by step, keeps breaking records. He now has 100th World Cup podiums, a feat achieved only by ski legend Ingemar Stenmark so far (155 wins). He was very close to the victory, and he probably believed in it after crossing the finish line with an advantage of almost two seconds, but today Pinturault was stronger and Hirscher is still satisfied with this.
"You know, I'm super, super happy with my second run today, another eighty points in the books. For sure, first run was with this mistake not what I was hoping for and if I want to search for four hundredths of a second, this was the mistake in the first run, that is for sure. I am super happy with my skiing in the second run, that was amazing and it felt great and so it is a good day".
Austria’s placed another athlete on the podium today, with Giant Slalom specialist Philipp Schörghofer claiming his 6th World Cup podium. The 36 years old racer is only 24th of the second run, but a brilliant performance in the first run allowed him to grab the last spot in the Top3.
"It was a great day for me. It was a big target for me to be on the podium today. I always want to be on the podium in Adelboden as a GS specialist. It's so cool here to be on the podium, the crowd is so amazing and the hill is great. There's a lot of tradition here so I am very happy with my third place here".

Tessa Worley Wins Giant Slalom in Maribor

Tessa Worley of France started off her new year back on the top step of the GS podium and maintaining the discipline standings lead with a blistering second run in Maribor,
Tessa Worley took the victory, finishing with a combined time of 2:16.96. The Frenchwoman was followed by Italian powerhouse Sofia Goggia, who was 0.16 seconds off of the pace. Switzerland’s Lara Gut rounded out the podium in third, 0.25 seconds away from the win.
"It’s intense, but it’s awesome because it’s only in skiing that you can feel this feeling", said Worley. "I was so happy at the end to see that I was winning. It’s a great fight and I’m really happy that all the girls are wanting to win every race and making it so hard. I’m happy because it pushes me to get to my best level".
After four DNFs in a row in past races, Sofia Goggia seemed once again poised for a shot at her career first victory, but the champagne will have to wait for another day. Still, the Italian had reason to celebrate.
"I’m pretty happy with today’s podium actually because it is an important race because it is the last one of Tina Maze, which was my idol in past years. So I was really touched and excited for that. I thought after the first run I was going to win, but still it’s OK like that", Goggia said. "I was crying like a baby, and … it’s [been] some years since I [was] crying for someone with emotion like this. I was really touched in my heart because it was really something important to me".
Mikaela Shiffrin ultimately finished fourth as Swiss Lara Gut edged her out for the final podium position in third.
"It’s always cool to be on the podium. I had a little bit too many mistakes in the first run, so I can be not really happy, but the podium is always great. So take that and keep on working and hopefully – soon – I will get the feeling of winning again back", said Gut. "It was really straight. It was just the way to go to the race. To me, it’s an easy course. It’s an easy slope. So you’ve seen in the first run, with two seconds you are top 30, no more. You have to push, and I think you also have to risk".
While the day was about the victor, it was also about Tina Maze. In a farewell to fans in her home country, the living legend skied one final World Cup run. Wearing bib 34, the two-time Olympic gold medalist skied the course with one pit stop along the way to hug her coaches. She finished by walking across the finish line, skis raised in the air victoriously as she heads into retirement. Of course, Maze recently told the AP that she’s not completely taking the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games off of the list of possibilities, so this race could be more of a “see you later” than a “goodbye” from the Slovenian.