Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mattias Hargin Wins Kitzbühel (Amazing) Slalom


After a week focused almost entirely on speed, Sunday in Kitzbühel is all about the slalom on the Ganslern.
In the first run, home favorite and 2013 winner Marcel Hirscher treated the crowd to a perfect run which earned him the lead. But in the second run, Mattias Hargin who has been knocking on the door of a podium multiple times this season finally pulled off a perfect second run and went one to achieve his maiden victory. Last year’s winner Felix Neureuther was fifth after the first run but managed to step up his game in the second run to earn his 6th slalom podium of the season.
Hargin has been showing some strong skiing all season long and even won the first run at some races but until today he been unsuccessful in linking two good runs and earning a top position. Today finally everything fell into place and with an unbelievable second run he finally took home his first World Cup victory.
"Kitzbühel is such a cool place to have your first win, at the moment it’s still had to express with words how I feel", an almost shocked Hargin said after the victory.
"So far I have always tried to focus on skiing without making any mistakes but realized maybe that was not the way to win races. After seeing Felix’s second run in Wengen I realized I could and should risk more. Today I was able to change my mindset and went full on, it certainly paid off", Hargin said before adding "Finally!" and summarizing what most thought.
After straddling in last year’s Kitzbühel slalom, Hirscher was aiming for a second victory on the Ganslern but some minor mistakes in the second run proved just too costly. Nevertheless, 80 points in his pocket and yet another podium are far from disappointing in Hirscher’s mind.
"It’s an unbelievable feeling to finish 2nd in the Kitzbuehel so I am thankful for how it worked out", Hirscher said.
But more than about his run, Hirscher wanted to talk about Hargin’s.
"I really have to say congratulations to Matthias, his second run was probably one of the best runs I have ever seen. Attacking a very tough course the way Mattias did isn’t something you see every day", Hirscher said.
Neureuther was equally impressed with Hargin’s performance.
"Today Mattias showed that you could risk a lot on the course and I think he truly deserved this victory. Both Marcel and I skied a bit too technically while he charged all the way", Neureuther said. "This is one of the biggest slaloms of the year and to be on the podium here is always special. It was a tough course and there were tough conditions in some sections so overall I am happy with the end result", Neureuther added.

Lindsey Vonn Wins St. Moritz Super-G


After the disappointment in Saturday’s downhill race, USA's Lindsey Vonn bounced back to get the super-G win on Sunday. Vonn went down the Engiadina course in 1:23.55 to edge Austria's Anna Fenninger by 0.24 seconds. Fenninger's teammate Nicole Hosp came third, 1.10 seconds off the pace.
Since her comeback in Lake Louise last December after two knee injuries, Lindsey Vonn topped the podium in five out of the ten races she has entered so far this season.
"It was definitely a difficult course today", Vonn told reporters in the finish area. "There was a lot of terrain and a lot of tricky parts. But I had a good inspection and thankfully I didn't make any mistakes like I did yesterday, so it's a good day".
The course set by the Austrians turned out to be very challenging as twenty-seven racers skied out. Among them Tina Maze, Elisabeth Görgl and Tina Weirather all missed the second to last gate. Home favourite Lara Gut caught an edge and fell on her side in the upper part.
"There were a few gates that girls were having trouble with", she explained. "That is one nice thing about being older, is that I've seen course sets like it was today. I just gave a little bit more room to make sure that I was through the finish".
Vonn clinched her 22nd career top spot in the discipline
Anna Fenninger finished second for the third time in a row in a super-G, after Val d'Isère and Cortina d'Ampezzo.
"In the first two section my rhythm wasn't that good but I skied well in the lower part", said the Olympic super-G champion. "To be able to beat Lindsey, your run has to be perfect from top to bottom. Finishing second again is a good result. It's not easy to be consistent at this level. Hopefully next time I can take a step forward and go for the win, especially with the World Championships coming up".
Nicole Hosp got her second podium finish of the World Cup season after the slalom victory in Aspen.
"My line wasn't that good in some sections where I was a bit too round", Hosp said. "But overall it's a great performance for me, which makes me very happy".

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Freeride World Tour Held 1st Competion of the Season in Chamonix-Mont-BlancToday


The contest went well and was followed by 106,000 viewers via the live streaming on the web – despite tricky conditions with clouds just below the face constantly threatening visibility on the Chamois competition face.
The face is mostly east-facing and feature packed. Good visibility and dense powder snow provided reliable conditions for riding with good flow, playfulness and pulling tricks off the features. As the day moved on the snow got a little crustier with the sun getting lightly veiled. Male and female skiers and snowboarders competed in the event representing fifty-nine of the world’s best freeriders with the male snowboarders opening the ball.
The slightly convex start out off start number 1 had riders choosing this start, drop “blind” into the face, obliging them to trust 100% what they saw in their inspection from the bottom for orientation. “Sharks” (hidden rocks just under the snow surface) and wind-affected snow added to the challenge up top. The reward was great snow and good take offs for the rest of the face with some low-snow management needed in the landings of the bottom airs. The conditions on the slightly more southwest-facing part of the face under start number 2 involved good dense snow, provided that one stayed out of chunks and debris from avalanches blown for safety earlier in the season.
FWT judge, Dion Newport (NZL) was impressed with the variety and what the riders got out of the competition face: "It was great to see so many riders putting together unique and creative lines. The venue was demanding as it was short and features were close so it came down to riders linking a smooth line together".
The competition began with the men’s snowboard division. Sammy Luebke (USA) chose a freestyle line taking advantage of the good snow conditions in the morning and putting some extra features in. His playful run gave him a first place and a score of 87.80. He was very happy and relieved at the bottom: "I finished off my season by mid-season last year – hurt my knee. I didn't know what it was going to be like coming into Chamonix – and when they picked this face I was really happy because there's a lot of places to go freestyle and the snow was excellent in there". Sascha Hamm (GBR) finished second going freestyle as well earning him a score of 85.50. FWT veteran, 39-year old Flo Orley (AUT) demonstrated that he can still keep up with his younger peers, placing 3rd with a score of score of 79.80.
Next up, was the men’s skiing category where the defending FWT Champion, Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) set the tone with a score of 92.75 after a longer break in the contest due to low hanging dense clouds interfering with safety helicopter logistics. He stomped a huge air right off the top – apparently bigger than what he had anticipated. Experience whispered to him that it would be enough if he could keep it together in a strong style for the rest of his run, leaving out a planned 360 on the second air: "I'm happy with my run – I was going to do a 360 in the middle but since I really went huge on the top air – I thought, I must have scored on that one - better to be smart and safe", he commented at the bottom. He revealed that he does feel that pressure is higher this year: "I was really, really under pressure and tense all morning – sure of my line – but under pressure from having won here last year and having won the overall title. Once I got in the start gate I only had one thing in my head, stomp it all, stay on your feet, no backslaps and let's take it all the way to the bottom!".
Reine Barkered (SWE) showed that he is still right up there – despite the compact nature of this face not being advantageous to his fast riding style. He placed second with a score of 89.25.
Drew Tabke (USA) on the other hand looked like he was right at home on the face, choosing an easier but very playful freestyle line including a Lincoln off a lip, giving him a score of 86.25 the 3rd place.
Few names are synonymous with big mountain snowboarding like Shannan Yates (USA) who swiftly won her division with a very strong and smooth run down the fall line. Yates’ nice inclusion of technical features earned her a score of 75.00. "Today I picked a line that didn't get touched the whole run – no competitors went before me there – and it worked out perfect for me, fresh pow turns all the way down", FWT winner 2011 – and birthday girl - Anne-Flore Marxer (FRA/SUI) got a little caught in some tracks after her first air but managed to stay on her feet pulling it back together and make a nice big air at the bottom to take a score of 70.50 and the second place of today. In 3rd place, Elodie Mouthon (FRA) received a score of 67.75 for her fluid run.
Finally, by the time the women skiers had the chance to drop into the Chamois face, they light had become a little lower and a small crust had formed on the snow, calming things down a little. Eva Walkner (AUT) stood for probably the most emotional moment of the day, coming back after two years fighting with knee injuries: "Two years, so many surgeries, pain coming back – it's been a horrible two years for me honestly and today I put myself under so much pressure at the start. I was so nervous – I didn't know where I stand and if I'm good if I can still hold the level or not... It was an easy line, I think all the girls chose a little bit more easy because of the sharks and everything. I missed one cliff so I wasn't sure at the bottom but my goal was to finish without crashing, stomping all my things", she said modestly after a solid run that took her to first place with the score of 73.00. "That I would win – it's a dream!" Christine Hargin (SWE) followed Eva in second place with a nice line down the middle of the face with little hesitation, earning her a score of 72.50. In third place, was the young rookie Silvia Moser (ITA) who showed that she is right in the heels with her risky line, giving her a score of 70.00.

Men’s Snowboard:
1. Sammy Luebke (USA), 87.80
2. Sascha Hamm (GBR), 85.50
3. Flo Orley (AUT), 79.80

Men’s Ski:
1. Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA), 92.75
2. Reine Barkered (SWE), 89.25
3. Drew Tabke (USA), 86.25

Women’s Snowboard:
1. Shannan Yates (USA), 75.00
2. Anne-Flore Marxer (SUI), 70.50
3. Elodie Mouthon (FRA), 67.75

Women’s Ski:
1. Eva Walkner (AUT), 73.00
2. Christine Hargin (SWE), 72.50
3. Silvia Moser (ITA), 70.00

Kjetil Jansrud Wins Shortest-ever Hahnenkamm Race


The Kitzbühel downhill is considered the scariest downhill in the world, but that is only until the weather decides otherwise and forces the start to be lowered half the way down the famous Streif. After two perfect training runs, both starting at the very top of the dreaded Streif, race day unfortunatley turned out to be entirely different story. A grey sky and light snowfall all through the morning made most people in Kitzbühel this Saturday look up wondering if the weather would keep stable enough through the day for the race to happen smoothly.
Unfortunately it didn’t, and after postponing the original 11.45 CET start time to 12.15 first, than to 12.45 and a third time to 13.15, but realizing the tick fog lingering on the Hausberg section of the course had no intention of disappearing, a final call had to be made in order not to lose the race. It quickly became clear that the only way a downhill was going to happen today was if the start was moved lower than the fog. Today this meant going as low Seidelalm Jump and running a downhill approximately half the length of the regular one.
Despite the general disappointment due to the short downhill, todays race certainly didn't lack in excitement and in the end the winner was the same one as in both full-length training runs – Kjetil Jansrud! The Norwegian who is leading both the super-G and downhill season rankings was once again the man to beat on the Streif as he crossed the finish line a mere 0.02 seconds faster than yesterday’s super-G winner Dominik Paris. In third place, French Guillermo Fayed finished 0.21 seconds behind and earned his second career’s podium.
"We are tough guys and everyone wanted to start from the top as it makes a huge difference when the start is lowered. But this is not the first time this happens, races get lowered not only in Kitzbuehel and the most important thing in the end is that we did have a race and that safety came first", Jansrud said about the shortened course.
Instead of skiing two minutes down the Streif, skiers had to adapt to the new situation of a downhill shorter than one minute and Jansrud explained how this takes some mental preparation.
"Kitz is a lot about mental readiness. You don’t want to waste energy when start is being delayed and that’s why I tried to rest and not be ‘on’ all the time. Than after learning that the start was going to be lowered I was able to change my mindset and attack the short course. I had a good run and finally some hundreds on my side of the table. A race is a race and I’m happy I won this one and hope in the future I can win a full length one too", Jansrud said at the Press Conference.
Paris was a bit slow finding his speed and was already 0.25 seconds behind Jansrud at the first intermediate but made up some time in the middle section of the course only to lose it again at the very end and finishing just behind Jansrud. 
"Two wins would have been better than one for sure but today was not easy for me so a second place is quite a satisfaction", he said. "I love Kitzbühel, I love this slope and it has been two amazing days so I am really happy with what I’m walking away with", Paris said.
Over the course of this season, Fayed has quickly risen to the "one to watch" status as with the consistency shown so far he is currently sitting in third place in the downhill standings.
"It’s a very good season for me so far, it’s almost incredible as I still struggle to understand why", Fayed said.
Jansrud was quick to offer an answer: " I’ll tell you why, because you have been skiing really well!", he said and made the whole room at the press conference burst out laughing.
"This is the biggest race of the year and so many people show up to watch. To be on the podium here is so special", Fayed said.

Lara Gut Earns Second Win of Season in St. Moritz


In front of thousands of cheering fans, local hero Lara Gut raced to her second victory of the season. The Swiss completed the so called Engiadina downhill course in 1:43.82 in sunny conditions on Saturday, while Austria's Anna Fenninger came second, 0.32 seconds adrift. Hungary's Edit Miklos finished third, 0.58 seconds out, for her first ever World Cup podium.
With bib 16 and after a slow top section, Lara Gut showcased her exceptional talent in the technical part to make up time and finally build up a comfortable lead.
"It's never easy for me to be fast in the top and relatively flat section, I have to fight a lot",, she explained. "I still managed to be faster there today than in training".
There was wind in the upper part of the track that tended to switch directions and hence had a slight influence on the race.
"Some girls had a tail wind and some didn't", commented Gut. "That is part of the game. We have had races with conditions that were much less regular than today, with stronger winds or clouds".
In 2008, the 23-year-old earned her first World Cup podium in a downhill and her maiden victory in a super-G both held in St. Moritz, but has failed to reach the top-3 there since.
I finished close to the podium in GS with a fourth place (2012), but yes I think it was time to be back on the podium,(...) It's a great start to the weekend for me and to have three Swiss racers in the top 7 makes it even better", said Gut with a big smile.
Still seeking for a first career victory in downhill, Anna Fenninger was the runner-up for the fifth time this season, across all disciplines.
"It was a windy run, but I think it was the case for everyone", she first said about the conditions. "My skiing was not perfect in the middle section, but was good again in the lower part. I'm just happy with that second place, considering the problems I had to be fast here over the past years".
Edit Miklos, who was born in Romania but is part of the Hungarian team since 2011 after moving to Budapest, had only one top ten finish before the achievement of the day. As a personal best, she came fifth in Crans-Montana downhill in 2014.
"I believe in me and I know that if I manage to put in a good run, then I can hope for a good place", she said. "To make the podium today is very important to me. I've put a lot of efforts in training and always tried my best and it finally pays off. It makes me very happy".

Friday, January 23, 2015

FWT 2015 Journal. Ep. 3. Face Check

Face checks and flirting in todays Journal, as the riders check out the new venue for tomorrows competition, Hersha checks them out through her binoculars and spies Julien Lopez causing mischief. Quel farceur!


The Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face (FWT) is the premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour in the world, featuring the sport’s top athletes competing in the world’s best mountain resorts. Created in 2008, the FWT became even more global in 2012 following the union of North American-based Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, and the European-based Swatch Freeride World Tour. Besides the successful implementation of this truly global FWT, the increase of Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) and Junior Freeride Tour events in recent years shows that the base of the sport is growing exponentially.
The FWT represents top-level big mountain riding, the most progressive and pure discipline of skiing and snowboarding. Riders use the entire mountain as their canvas, from cliffs, cornices and chutes to powder fields and trees. FWT events have invitation-only athlete rosters but the full FWQ series allows athletes to compete in 1 to 4-star level events and qualify for the FWT the following season. All FWT competition venues are handpicked for their terrain, as well as their steepness, and offer a wide range of options to those competing.

Alexis Pinturault Wins Hahnenkamm Combined


Under the floodlights of the slope next to the Streif, 27 skiers from the morning’s Super-G entered a one run slalom to chase the title of 2015 Hahnenkamm Alpine Combined winner.
After a strong super-G run where he finished only 1.47 seconds behind winner Paris, Alexis Pinturault was the favorite for the win and he didn’t disappoint. The Frenchman crossed the finish line 0.69 seconds faster than Hirscher and 0.94 seconds ahead of surprise third place winner Czech Ondrej Bank.
"In Combined, my best discipline is the slalom, not the downhill or the super G, so I have to be fast and not make any mistakes so I just tried today to attack the super G. In the slalom, I just tried to do my best and even though you never know what will be enough for a victory, when I crossed the finish line and saw the green light I knew that could be it and it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s really special to win here, especially for a second time", Pinturault said after the slalom run.
Hirscher picks and choses the speed races he enters through the season based on whether he thinks he has a chance to collect some significant points and even though this morning’s SG was not a simple task for a tech racer, the 80 points he added to his name after the Alpine Combined made the gamble worth it.
"I don’t have so much experience on the long skis and today the super-G was more like a downhill so for a slalom guy to ski there 130 km/h it’s on the edge. In the end, if I finish into the net, everyone would say, ‘He’s a total crazy, stupid idiot,’ but today maybe I’m a small hero", Hirscher said.
In 2007, Bank earned a third place in the Beaver Creek Combined race but has since struggled to get back on the podium as his career has been marked by numerous injuries over the past few years.
"I struggled with many injuries between my first podium and this one, it was not a nice time. But I seem to be enjoying skiing more and more these days so sharing this podium with Alexis and Marcel is a big pleasure. These guys are some of the best skiers in the history of our sport and I am thrilled to be on the podium with them", Bank said with a big smile.

Domink Paris Wins Kitzbühel Super-G


The 75th edition of the Hahnenkamm Rennen in Kitzbühel couldn’t have had a better opening race. In the morning, an exciting super-G took place on the notorious Streif with Italian Dominik Paris putting down a flawless run and with a time of 1minute, 09.99 seconds earned his first career’s SG victory. It was close to a perfect day for the home team as Matthias Mayer and Georg Streitberger finished in second and third place, 0.06 and 0.34 seconds behind the winning time.
Paris is no stranger to the top step of the Kitzbühel podium, having won the downhill in 2013 but winning his first SG at such a prestigious race gave him even more reasons to celebrate.
"Its fantastic, I never expected to ski so well in a super-G especially here in Kitzbuehel as it’s a particularly tough one. This victory came at the best place, the most important one. It was a fast course set; I wish they were always like this as it works well for me", Paris said after his victory.
Both Austrians have earned podiums in Kitzbühel before, Mayer finished second in the 2013 super-G while Streitberger finished third in 2010 and second in 2011.
"I am very happy about this, two years ago I have already been second here so I guess this slope works for me. Today was fast but I usually don’t really care how a SG is set. But now it’s time to start focusing on tomorrow’s downhill", Mayer said.
As the last racer crossed the finish line, Streitberger was able to finally relax, as he was sure his podium place was secure.
"I was nervous until the end of the race and kept thinking someone might push me off the podium coming from a higher number. I knew there were some good skiers coming down later in the race so I was very relieved to see it no one managed and I was able to hold on to a podium position", Streitberger said.
After seeing the course set of the super-G, an unusually high number of racers chose to use their downhill skis in the race. But the two fastest guys did not and skied the race on their "regular" super-G ones.
"Today was a super-G and I skied on my super-G skis, it was a fast course but if you are ever in a position where you are coming late into a turn with the SG skis you can correct your line while with downhill skis there is no chance to get out of certain mistakes", Paris explained his choice.
"Today was fast of course but I for sure I would not have been able to ski today on DH skis", was Mayer’s comment on the topic.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

FWT 2015 Journal. Ep. 2. Safety

In todays FWT Journal Hersha digs things up, blows stuff up and generally pokes around for treats. What is she doing? An avalanche safety workshop of course!



The Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face (FWT) is the premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour in the world, featuring the sport’s top athletes competing in the world’s best mountain resorts. Created in 2008, the FWT became even more global in 2012 following the union of North American-based Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, and the European-based Swatch Freeride World Tour. Besides the successful implementation of this truly global FWT, the increase of Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) and Junior Freeride Tour events in recent years shows that the base of the sport is growing exponentially.
The FWT represents top-level big mountain riding, the most progressive and pure discipline of skiing and snowboarding. Riders use the entire mountain as their canvas, from cliffs, cornices and chutes to powder fields and trees. FWT events have invitation-only athlete rosters but the full FWQ series allows athletes to compete in 1 to 4-star level events and qualify for the FWT the following season. All FWT competition venues are handpicked for their terrain, as well as their steepness, and offer a wide range of options to those competing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

FWT 2015 Journal. Ep. 1. Welcome!

Here is the first FWT15 Journal before the start of the competition.
The date of the 2015 Swatch Freeride World Tour (FWT) is coming closer and closer. The Tour will once again stop in the famous French resort of Chamonix, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Mont Blanc, and widely considered as the Mecca of Freeriding.Hersha is back again with the Freeride Journal with the sole intention of getting amongst it behind the scenes on the tour. The first episode kicks of in Chamonix at the riders hotel where she gets the lowdown on snow conditions from ski guide Stéphane Dan (FanFan) and catches up with her old 'friends' Reine Barkered and Jackie Passo.

 

The Swatch Freeride World Tour By The North Face (FWT) is the premier big mountain freeskiing and snowboarding tour in the world, featuring the sport’s top athletes competing in the world’s best mountain resorts. Created in 2008, the FWT became even more global in 2012 following the union of North American-based Freeskiing World Tour, The North Face Masters of Snowboarding, and the European-based Swatch Freeride World Tour. Besides the successful implementation of this truly global FWT, the increase of Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) and Junior Freeride Tour events in recent years shows that the base of the sport is growing exponentially.
The FWT represents top-level big mountain riding, the most progressive and pure discipline of skiing and snowboarding. Riders use the entire mountain as their canvas, from cliffs, cornices and chutes to powder fields and trees. FWT events have invitation-only athlete rosters but the full FWQ series allows athletes to compete in 1 to 4-star level events and qualify for the FWT the following season. All FWT competition venues are handpicked for their terrain, as well as their steepness, and offer a wide range of options to those competing.