Sunday, March 29, 2015

Freeride World Tour Champions Crowned at the Xtreme Verbier

Yesterday the battle for the FWT titles took place on the mythical 3222m (10570 ft) Bec des Rosses, all while celebrating 20 years of Xtreme. The much respected north face that has provided the stage for the Xtreme Verbier for twenty years, showed a new challenging side, being dressed in a lighter snow cover this year.

Freeride World Tour Champions 2015:

Ski Men: George Rodney (USA)
Ski Women: Eva Walkner (AUT)
Snowboard Men: Jonathan Charlet (FRA)
Snowboard Women: Estelle Balet (SUI)

Men’s Ski

In men's skiing experience beat audacity. Not in the sense of conservatism but in the ability to spot the winning lines.
Aurelien Ducroz (FRA) who has already won three times on this face and who was competing on an honorary wildcard did not let his fans down. He opened the men's skiing with a spectacular line below the highest start that set the expectations of both the judges and the crowd as to the awesomeness needed for a podium. He has now set his print in the history books as the only skier to have won the Xtreme Verbier 4 times with a score of 88.50.
"I'm just really pleased - a 4th victory for the 20th anniversary of the Xtreme! I have so much love for this face. I really feel good here,” Aurelien said emotionally. “I almost changed my line last minute and then with Reine we motivated each other and I went ahead with it. I'm so happy I don't know what to say..."
Just behind Aurelien with a score of 88.12 was another skier who has experience written all over him. Reine Barkered (SWE) went a little slower into the same line as Aurelien but quickly picked up the pace in this line leading to an enormous cliff that he landed perfectly in the exposed area, making it possible for him to take immediate control of the acceleration despite the very steep part of the face. Another A-run from the stomp master that he ended shooting down over the apron at the bottom.
The skier in the golden bib, George Rodney (USA) had quite a comfortable position to reach out for the World Champion title getting into today's contest. All he needed to be untouchable was a 5th place. He knew that he couldn't just play it safe though, especially having Jeremie Heitz (SUI) in his heels, hungry for a win on home turf. George laid out with a big top air getting straight into the game and skied fast and strong down a technical line for a 3rd place finish and a score of 87.75, bringing the rookie the World Champion title after a a very tight top of the field to day and a fantastic season on the FWT.
"Pretty much speechless. My dream came true today – and a lot of hard work that I've put in, has finally paid off", said an obviously moved new World Champion. "It's just so cool – I'm stoked - First time on tour, first time here, first win in Alaska – it's a season of firsts!"

Women’s Ski

The women's ski podium provided everything from bold and ballsy lines, executed whole heartedly and to perfection
by the young Hazel Birnbaum (USA) to the experience-driven line choice of Christine Hargin (SWE). In between was the creativity of the young rookie Silvia Moser (ITA).
The battle for the title was already won by Eva Walkner (AUT) this Monday in Haines, Alaska. Today she had to give in to the classic release of pressure after such a big accomplishment, but hungry hearts were more than ready to step in.
Hazel had spotted the winning line, and the way she rode it got the crowds screaming in excitement twice! First when she stomped an exposed double up top and second after another big double on the bottom. She scored 88.00 standing out as the only woman scoring in the 80es.
"As my rookie year I feel like I learned a lot and I got to be inspired by a lot of incredible women that I've looked up to for so many years, so it's an incredible privilege and an honor to even be part of this event. I'm beyond ecstatic!", Hazel expressed after realizing her outstanding performance.
Fresh off a win in Alaska, Silvia Moser picked an original line all the way out the skier's left of the face and with a committed run lining up feature after feature, she scored 76.25 and took 2nd place.
Christine Hargin showed her experience in knowing exactly how far to take the risk aspect for putting down a solid run evolving around two main features and good speed. The 2012 World Champion could thus walk away with a strong finish to the season and a 3rd place with a score of 72.75.

Men's Snowboard

In the men's snowboard category the battle was very tight and a podium result today was crucial to anybody contending to grab the title. The situation translated directly into what will probably be remembered as one of the most diverse and next-level snowboard freeride event of all times. As if paying tribute to the Bec des Rosses and its greatness and surprises, the riders incessantly showed new interpretations of the face, making for the supreme showcase of what is possible on a snowboard.
Jonathan Charlet (FRA) had the chance of taking over Sammy Luebke (USA) in the overall if he won today's event – provided that the super smooth American rider didn't finish second. Jonathan stepped up to the challenge and delivered a mind-blowing run, perfectly mixing playfulness into his trademark big mountain style of riding, ending it up flying down the apron in what could have been the forerun for wingsuit pilot, Geraldine Fasnacht (SUI).
An incredible score of 91.00 set Jonathan straight to the top.
"I'm super stoked! Everything was just great. I realized a run without any pressure – extraordinary! Long live the Argentois", the new World Champion said with a salute to his hometown.
Jonathan can thank the - as of today - former World Champion, Emilien Badoux (SUI) for taking care of the rest needed to secure the title. Emilien has been out with injury all season, but he showed that he is more than just back in the game. He rode an amazing line where he used the big middle feature below start number 2 as a transfer over to a no-fall zone with a huge triple that no-one else had spotted so far. Stomping 1-2-3 he was completely in sync with her Majesty the 'Bec' earning him 85.75. This put him in front of Sammy who had chosen a third approach. He laid out with the cliff right below start number 1 giving him VIP entrance into the more open patch, finally setting himself up for a very technical finish with two big drops in the fall line earning him a score of 82.75. Good for a 3rd place in this great celebration of 20 years of snowboard on the 'Bec' - yet just 30 ranking points away from the title.
Not on the podium but definitely deserving to be mentioned was the absolute veteran (19 out of 20 possible starts on the Bec des Rosses), Steve Klassen (USA). And what a classy rider! Staying right on top of his game for 19 years, taking features of all shapes and sizes all the way to the very bottom of the face like a certain pink rabbit with excellent batteries.

Women’s Snowboard

Wildcard and former Olympic Champion, Nicola Thost (GER) showed that she has ridden off any wildcard intimidation and re-found her freedom to flow. She set herself apart today, with a score of 71.00 - 16 points more than number two!
"My plan for today worked out really well. It was a perfect day, and I knew from the beginning that I would have a lot of fun. It was super fun to ride this mountain and I’m absolutely stoked I could take the win", the winner said afterwards. "The snow conditions were fine, and it’s just awesome to win Verbier. There’s really a positive vibe going on at this event, and this helps a lot to have fun and stay focussed at the same time".
The battle for the title in the women's snowboard category was between Shannan Yates (USA) and Estelle Balet (SUI).
While Shannan caught up with Estelle in Alaska, Estelle knew how to use her home advantage in Verbier. Opening the contest in the line that Nicola also chose, unfortunately some slough lead her to a minor stop in the flow, but the difficulty of her airs were enough to give her the 2nd place today with a score of 55.00.
Shannan tried to make the difference with a technical line on riders' left which allowed her to keep a good flow but without the same difficulty of features. Enough though to squeeze in on the podium just one quarter of a point ahead of Anne-Flore Marxer (SUI/FRA) with a score of 52.25.

The top 16 Ski Men, 8 Snowboard Men, 7 ski women and 4 snowboard women of the final FWT ranking are directly qualified for the FWT 2016.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Swatch Freeride World Tour 2015 Xtreme Verbier

The Freeride World Tour 2015 final will be held in Verbier, at the Xtreme Verbier on the Bec Des Rosses venue on Saturday march 28th for the 20th edition.

The Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face stop in Verbier (SUI) is confirmed for tomorrow Saturday March 28th 2015 with first start at 9:00am CET.
The mountain of the Bec des Rosses in Verbier has provided the stage for the Xtreme Verbier every year since 1996. That means 20 Years of Xtreme for this event which now every year marks the Grande Finale of a full professional freeride circuit – known as the Freeride World Tour (FWT). The 20th edition of the Xtreme Verbier will be celebrated with festivities and shows. The highlight, however, will be the show put on by the FWT athletes who will be fighting for the Champion title on the 'Bec' along with certain famous riders who have received wild cards to compete in this special edition.
A total 14 men and 8 women will be competing in the skiing category and 9 men and 5 women in snowboard. This includes the top 12 from the men's ski current FWT ranking, top 6 from the men's snowboard and women's skiing categories and the top 4 from the women's snowboard. The rest are the special wild cards that have been awarded for the competition.
A spectators village will be set up at the Col de Gentianes on top of the Jumbo lift, from where there is a perfect view of the competition face. The whole event can also be followed from the Event Village, rue de Médran, via live streaming on the giant screen.
The Event Village offers many other activities from Friday to Sunday with a full program of happenings such as concerts, DJ, slackline initiation and demonstrations... as well as Après-ski and parties! The official FWT partners will also be presenting their newest collections in their respective stands.
True to the tradition there will be an FWT Autograph Session on Friday at 6pm leading up to the Official Opening Ceremony at 6:30pm. The Official Prize Giving Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 5.30pm just after the Xtreme Verbier 20th anniversary special ceremony which will take place at 5pm.
Coming along to celebrate the 20 Years of Xtreme are former champions and other VIPs such as Sverre Liliequist (SWE), Seb Michaud (FRA), Giulia Monego (ITA), Géraldine Fasnacht (SUI), Jérôme Ruby (FRA), Kaj Zackrisson (SWE) and more.
The Freeride Junior World Tour will also have its final contest of the season on Saturday. It will happen on the 'Junior Bec' just to the lookers left of the Bec des Rosses. Everything is thus set up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this epic event as it deserves.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Salomon Freeski TV: Ruapehu

The volcanoes of Tongariro National Park in NZ mark the most treasured spot in all of Maori culture. Mike Douglas, Chris Rubens, and Josh Daiek gain unprecidented access to these sacred lands.

Thirty Seconds to Mars To Close Winter Season in Ischgl

Thirty Seconds to Mars are set to play on 2nd May 2015 at the legendary Top of the Mountain Concert in Ischgl, at 2300 metres altitude, right in the centre of the ski area. Entry is free when you have a valid ski pass.
At 2300 metres altitude the band from Los Angeles will be playing songs from their latest album 'Love, Lust, Faith + Dreams'. At 1 p.m. winter sports fans will be able to watch the band perform hits like 'City of Angels' through the Silvretta Arena. At the open-air concert in the middle of the ski area, brothers Jared and Shannon Leto along with guitarist Tomo Miličević, will follow in the footsteps of greats - world stars like Robbie Williams, Elton John, Katy Perry and Rihanna have preceded them on the Top of the Mountain stage. Entry is free when you have a valid ski pass. A day ticket is available for 85 Euro per person. For 4 days and over, standard, discounted ski pass tariffs apply.
Thirty Seconds to Mars is already familiar for a few things – they are in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest concert tour ever. Yet, an open-air concert at 2300 metres is also something new for these experienced musicians. In Ischgl they will present their fourth studio album 'Love Lust Faith + Dreams' - which reached number 3 in the German album charts – on the legendary Idalp stage. In November 2014 the American trio received their third MTV Europe Music Award for 'Best Alternative' act.
Thirty Seconds to Mars took a break from touring in 2012 and spent most of the year recording their fourth album, entitled Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. The album was produced by Jared Leto with previous collaborator Steve Lillywhite. Leto said that the band took a new direction with Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams. He explained that the album "is more than an evolution, it's a brand new beginning. Creatively, we've gone to an entirely new place, which is exciting, unexpected, and incredibly inspiring".

The legendary Ischgl Top of the Mountain Concert is to provide spectators with world-class entertainment surrounded by ideal winter sport facilities. Skiers are to be transported this year by the new Pardatschgrat tricable gondola lift directly from the centre of the resort to the ski area in next to no time. Freeriders can meanwhile go on the hunt for new lines under the Piz Val Gronda cable car. The area was only opened in winter 2013/2014. The evening will be a time to put the skis down and celebrate the start of the season with a world-famous star.

Thirty Seconds to Mars follows in the footsteps of a galaxy of superstars who have entertained skiers and boarders in the Austrian resort's traditional Top of the Mountain gig. Long time ago, Ischgl decided to put its entire advertising and marketing budget into staging two massive concerts a year to open and close the winter season. Elton John was the first star to feature in the Tirolean resort's now famous season closing concerts, back in 1995. Since then the resort has hosted Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Sting, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Bon Jovi, Enrique Iglesias, Atomic Kitten, Peter Gabriel, The Corrs, Alanis Morissette, Lionel Richie, Pink, the Scissor Sisters, the Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Elton John again, Gabriella Cilmi, Leona Lewis, Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Gossip, The Killers,Roxette, Mariah Carey, The Scorpions, Deep Purple, Nickelback, Robbie Williams and James Blunt.

Ischgl (1377m) is a truly Ski Paradise in Tirol (Austria) with 238 km of prepared pistes, 43 lifts and lots of interesting new features in the ski resort. The modern lifts managed by the Silvretta Seilbahn AG Company offer a high level of comfort and countless extras, such as heated seats in the Fimbabahn cable car built for the 2007/08 season. A variety of slopes and ski routes offer a opportunity for everyone, from beginners to experts looking for challenging pistes. Eleven is the name of the longest piste with approximately 11 kilometres from the top of the ski resort in Greitspitz (2,872 metres) to Ischgl village (1,400 metres).
From Ischgl you can access to the Silvretta Arena Ski Paradise, thanks to an alliance between two Companies (Silvretta Seilbahn AG and Bergbahnen Sammaun AG) and two ski resorts (Ischgl-Sammaun) from two different countries (Switzerland-Austria).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FWT 2015 In Haines, Alaska

The event in Haines, Alaska was a true show of freeride at its best. It was a nine day wait for the weather to play along but everyone seemed to know that it would be all worth it. The setting was like an Alaskan postcard with fresh powder under a clear blue sky and with a big glacier as a backdrop. Having shown great form all season, Eva Walkner (AUT) had a solid lead in women's skiing coming into the event. With four out of five results counting for the final ranking, and Eva counting one win and 2nd places in all the other events, she can now call herself World Champion no matter how she performs in Verbier. The suspense for the titles in the other categories is still intact as the Freeride World Tour moves into the final event.
The athletes delivered mind-blowing performances, whether fighting to grab the title or simply attempting to qualify for the last stage of the season in Verbier (SUI) on March 28. The conditions on the 740 vertical meters (2300 ft) competition face, The Venue, were close to perfect with knee deep, blower powder covering the characteristic long and impressive spines.

Men’s Ski
The skier in the golden bib, George Rodney (USA) was charging this face like there was no tomorrow, using his floating features to reposition himself so as to keep the control without ever having to turn his skis more than 45 degrees to the fall line despite the sustained extreme pitch of this face. His gutsy run earned him a score of 87.75 and his second win of the season though this was a completely different animal than the more closed face in Andorra. One of the highlights of his run was his fast reaction of pointing everything in the fall line in the steepest part of the face to save an imbalance – a very counter-intuitive move in such terrain that shows the level of mastery of this young rider. "I can't believe it - that was the coolest run I've ever done in my life,” he said at the bottom. “It's the best face I've been on. It is like two venues".
Jérémie Heitz (SUI) put anyone believing that he would actually slow down his usual Mach 3 skiing style here on The Venue in Haines to shame. Despite the many blind parts on this double roll-over face he sent it directly, aggressively and with perfect fluidity, putting his more difficult airs in at the top and then focusing on speed like no other rider. This tactic put him in 2nd place with score of 81.00.
Close behind and in 3rd place was Kevin Guri (FRA) who scored 80.00 with a high paced run including an impressive cliff band.

Women’s Ski
The women skiers really put everything out there to qualify for Verbier resulting in three DNFs. Silvia Moser (ITA) made the run of her season and took her first FWT victory with a score 84.00. She chose a very technical top section with a steep double and then opted for shoot with no tracks at the bottom. "I had a very cool run, I had fun and did everything I wanted to do", the successful Tour rookie commented. "I am very happy. It is the best run of the winter so far".
The woman of the day was Eva Walkner (AUT) who took her third 2nd place of the season with a very intelligent approach that demonstarted her knowledge of Alaskan conditions. She went for a technical line without gambling with speed yet got her features in as planned knowing exactly what was needed to secure her title before enjoying the powder on the more mellow part in the fresh snow to skiers right. "I went for all the things that I had planned and did some of the best powder turns of my life. It was fun!", She says about her run. Still needing to fully realize that she is actually the World Champion, she is just relieved that her struggles with injuries are behind her and that the hard work has paid off: "It was two years of hard work and coming back from injury and winning the title I have no words for it!".
The 3rd place went to Francesca Ace Pavillard-Cain (USA) with a score 65.00. She put in some very nice features with good speed but some balance struggles in the landings cost her a few points.

Men's Snowboard
 The men's snowboard category started the contest shortly after 9.15am (AKDT) (6.15pm CET). First out of the Swatch gate was Sammy Luebke (USA) and he certainly didn't throw away this incredible opportunity to open the new FWT Alaskan venue in style. With his usual smooth riding, he started out with a lot of speed pulling a double in the steepest part of the face. He managed to keep that level of action all the way down the face including a well executed 360 and another big feature. He put his competitors under pressure right away with a whopping score of 90.00, giving him the win in the end. "Everything lined up the way I thought. I'm excited to go to Verbier!" Sammy summed up his day at work.
Flo Orley (AUT) was last to go in the men's snowboard category and he confirmed that he is on fire this season with an all-out, perfectly ridden line including the biggest fly of the day in his category charging out over the rollover leading into the steep bottom section. He took 2nd place scoring 87.00, thus removing the chances of Jonathan Charlet (FRA) to make an early claim at the FWT title at this event.
The 3rd podium place went to Colin Boyd (USA) who was also on track to challenge Sammy until a small loss of control after a 360 took his score one notch down to 82.00

Women’s Snowboard
Shannan Yates (USA) was in charge of keeping the battle for the title in this category open still. By winning here she closed in on Estelle Balet (SUI) who placed second. Both showed fast and fluid riding, but where Estelle took higher risks especially on speed, she paid by a bit of loss of control in the steepest section leaving her behind Shannan's 79.50 with a score of 75.00. Shannan was very happy with her run, having managed to pull out of some slough without breaking her flow too much.
"It feels amazing! I got to ride fantastic Alaskan powder. I had a small section of snow break on me but I was able to ride it out and it didn't phase me", said the happy winner. "I am so excited to be here in Alaska it is just a great, great event". Elodie Mouthon (FRA) opened up the central shoot and put in a strong finish, earning her the 3rd place with a score of 69.00.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Vail Resorts Launches the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack

Vail Resorts Launches Unprecedented New Program Offering Free Skiing and Riding for All K-5 School Kids on the "Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack".
Skiing and riding at Vail Resorts’ Colorado mountains just got even more accessible for families with a value and new level of accessibility unmatched and previously unavailable anywhere. Vail Resorts announced today that it has re-imagined its program for fifth and sixth graders, formerly known as School of Shred, to now include all kindergarten through fifth graders. Renamed "Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack", the program provides four days of free skiing and riding at each of the best resorts in their backyard – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. In addition to four free days, Epic SchoolKids also get the opportunity to hone their skills at the ivy league of ski schools with a free full-day beginner lesson and equipment rentals at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone in the month of January, outside of holiday periods, as part of Learn to Ski & Ride Month.
"Colorado kids are in a most enviable position having the Rocky Mountains on their doorstep", said Governor John Hickenlooper. "As a Colorado-based company, Vail Resorts is providing a tremendous opportunity for our community, our families and our kids, to get outside, explore the mountains, and learn and play in the outdoors. Opening up the possibility for kids’ participation in snowsports – some who may never before have dreamed that they could enjoy such an experience – is an important effort in ensuring that Colorado is the healthiest state in the country for generations to come".
"Fostering a love for skiing and snowboarding in kids is a top priority for Vail Resorts", said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. "As a Colorado-based company, it is incredibly important that we continue to find ways to connect kids and families in our local communities and around the state with the mountains and the many benefits of snow sports. The Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack gives kids the opportunity to experience the thrill of skiing and riding at the best resorts in Colorado. We’re excited to extend such an unprecedented opportunity to families and to share the mountains in which we work, live and play with so many children who have not before had the opportunity to experience them in the winter", she explained.
Eligible Epic SchoolKids simply need to bring their mom, dad or guardian in to participating Front Range Colorado Ski & Golf, Colorado Ski & Sport and Boulder Ski Deals locations to register for an Epic SchoolKids Pack, beginning Monday, March 23, through Memorial Day. Epic SchoolKids must present a copy of their report card, school ID or birth certificate, as well as a photo for their pass. A parent or guardian will be asked to sign a release and then watch the mailbox for the Epic SchoolKids Colorado Pack.
"There’s no better way to ignite a child’s passion for snowsports than in the fun and safe environment of ski school", said Fred Rumford, director of the ski and ride school for Keystone Resort. "In the spirit of Learn to Ski & Ride Month, we wanted to extend the opportunity for kids who’ve not had the opportunity to ski or ride before to experience our world-class ski and ride schools with a free beginner lesson and full day of equipment rentals, so they can learn from a pro and hopefully make some new friends at the same time. Getting kids outside, participating in snow sports and being active in the outdoors is beneficial for a whole host of reasons, including building self-esteem, encouraging active family play and a respect and care for the environment", he added.

Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. The Company's subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons in Park City, Utah; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resort hotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN).

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Anna Fenninger Wins Giant Slalom Race and Title and Takes the Overall Globe

The 2014-2015 Audi FIS World Cup came to an end on Sunday in Méribel with the last race of the season finally going to Austria's Anna Fenninger, who retained the overall title, after a suspenseful battle against her rival Tina Maze.
The 31-year-old Slovenian had a slim eighteen-point lead over Anna Fenninger heading into the race. Third out of the gate, Fenninger clocked the fastest time in the first run and saw Tina Maze come close to her mark, just 0.27 seconds out.
The second leg was just breathtaking as Fenninger managed to hold on to her position after an outstanding performance to take the win, 0.38 seconds ahead of team-mate Eva-Maria Brem. Tina Maze put everything on the line to put pressure on Fenninger but had to be content with third place, 0.46 seconds off the pace.
"There was so much pressure today and it was hard to stay focused", said Fenninger. "I was so nervous before the run. When I came through the finish and saw the green light, it was just incredible. I am so happy to be standing as the winner today. This is what I have worked for during some many years".
With the win, Fenninger also secured the Small Globe with 542 points in the giant slalom standings, 106 points ahead of Eva-Maria Brem and 185 points ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin.
"It's been a perfect season for me", Fenninger added. "There are so many people behind me who worked for these globes. I am very thankful to them".
Maze’s end to the winter almost kept pace, but she will leave Meribel disappointed after leading the overall standing for most of the season. She will more than likely look back at the weekend in Maribor where she failed to finish both races as the turning point that allowed Fenninger to creep back into contention. At the end of the day, she lost the title by a mere 22 points despite finishing no worse than fourth at the four events here at World Cup Finals and almost matching Fenninger’s podium streak. She finished second or third in six of the final 10 races.
Maze fell behind in the standings last weekend in Are, Sweden, for the first time since December. It was later revealed that she was dealing with a stomach bug during that weekend and was unable to muster the energy needed to be competitive on the second runs. There has been ongoing speculation that Maze may not race next season, but nothing has been announced formally at the moment. For now, she will leave Meribel looking up at Fenninger with her immediate future in the sport of ski racing in doubt.
"I had a great end of the season", said Maze. "I am really proud of that. But I lost too many points in Maribor or St. Moritz and even in Are when I wasn’t feeling that well. But Anna deserves it. In the end it was fun. It was tight, and it made it interesting. Either win or lose, we were there. I am happy about that".

Marcel Hirscher Wins Race and Takes Slalom and Overall Titles

Marcel Hirscher did it again: he walks away with the globe after winning the final Slalom race of the season at Meribel ahead of Giuliano Razzoli  +0.83 and Alexander Khoroshilov +1.09!
Sunday’s giant slalom was supposed to be the final showdown day between Marcel Hirscher and Kjetil Jansrud in what has been a season long battle for the Overall title and between Hirscher and Felix Neureuther for the slalom title. Coming into the last race of the season Hirscher was leading by 60 points ahead of Jansrud but trailing 55 points behind Neureuther.
While a scenario where Jansrud would score a 4th place or better in slalom with Hirscher not winning any points seemed highly unlikely, the Norwegian decided not to take any unnecessary risk in a discipline he hardly skis and on Saturday evening he got pulled off the slalom start list making Hirscher’s 4th Overall title official a few hours earlier than anticipated.
"I didn’t want any fuss about the Overall yesterday, Marcel still had a shot at the slalom title and I thought it would be good to let him focus on it. It just seemed fair. We all knew that gaining 60 points on Marcel in slalom would be an impossible task for me so I decided to not ski. When you don’t ski you can’t be on the start list so my coach pulled me off the board last night and made it official. It’s all good by me", Jansrud explained his decision while chilling in the finish area and watching the race.
Despite finishing second, Jansrud could not have been happier about his season and the two speed globes he earned.
"It has been a great season, I don’t feel like I am losing out on the Overall, I had a good fight. Instead of putting all my focus on not winning the Overall I’ll put it on being really happy with what I have achieved. It has been an amazing ride this season", he said.
With the Overall sorted early, all eyes were on the developments of the slalom title. In the first run, Hirscher laid down a strong run and was sitting in third place, while Neureuther made a very costly mistake just a few gates before the finish line and finished 14th, 1.74 seconds behind the leader Stefano Gross.
This development weighted heavily in Hirscher’s favor and Hirscher made the most out of it by skiing a perfect second run and taking home both the race and slalom title victories.
"It was definitely a tough situation, I am really sorry for Felix as he was so close to his first globe. But you know, it’s part of our sport", Hirscher said. "I am super happy, because before the race I was in a very unusual position, normally I didn’t stand a chance but the victory made it possible and I’m thrilled".
Hirscher has been in a similar position only last year when Neureuther was leading the standings going into the last race of the season and Hirscher managed to “steal” the title from him by edging him by 15 points. Today it felt almost as if history was repeating itself.
"There was no pressure. There is only an opportunity you have when you are in my situation and it’s to try to give it 100%, ski as fast as you can. No tactics. If everything works well it’s perfect and if I skied out it would have been ok as well. Its not the end of the world", he explained.
Neureuther was obviously disappointed by his second missed chance to win the slalom title especially as it seemed as the nerves got the best of him. The back pain that he has been suffering from on and off through the season decided to come back in the last weeks, making it even more challenging for the German to ski the way he had planned to.
"It’s tough for me. I have to say much respect for Marcel. He did an amazing job today", said Neureuther. "Marcel won the overall globe, the GS globe. Of course maybe for him it was a little bit easier than the last race. He had nothing to lose and I didn’t feel that good anymore the last two weeks. My back didn’t feel that good anymore. And then, yeah, it goes quick in skiing".

Saturday, March 21, 2015

FWT15 Haines, Alaska GoPro Course Preview. Comp is Rescheduled For Tomorrow

The idea of a third attempt at holding this Alaskan stage in Haines yesterday looked very promising according to the weather forecast. However, Mother Nature had decided differently. The conditions were such that the attempt could be called off early, avoiding that the riders had to go on a helicopter ride out to the Venue in vain again and eventually get stuck up in the mountains with weather coming in.
 With this window now closed, FWT General Manager, Nicolas Hale-Woods (SUI), announced that due to the snow storm forecast the event is called off for the day. Saturday is not an option neither. Expressing the strong will of the riders as well as the organizers to bring this ambitious dream event alive, it has been decided to prolong the stay in Haines, Alaska despite the logistic challenges and financial implications that this incurs. Being so close, the fabulous snow conditions, and that beauty of the competition face all feed the motivation to wait out another storm and give it one more try.
Next Possible Competition Day is Sunday.

Henrik Krisoffersen Wins The Giant Slalom Race, Marcel Hirscher Takes GS Title

Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen won the giant slalom in Meribel, while Marcel Hirscher took a big step toward a record fourth straight overall title after placing fourth.
Marcel Hirscher earned a Crystal Globe today in the giant slalom at the Audi FIS World Cup Season Finals in Meribel (FRA), although he might have been hoping to take home its bigger brother as well. Hirscher already had the giant slalom globe secured entering today’s race and had the chance to also wrap up the Overall Title, but Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) kept his hopes alive to challenge for the big globe after skiing to an 11th-place finish thanks to strong second run.
Hirscher now leads Jansrud by 60 points in the hunt for the Overall Title with only tomorrow’s slalom remaining. Admittedly, Jansrud’s chances are not too great considering Hirscher is a technical specialist and slalom being one of his strongest events. The Norwegian essentially has to finish in the top-two in tomorrow’s slalom and hope for Hirscher to DNF or finish outside the top 15 in order to win the Overall Title, both highly unlikely scenarios. Nevertheless, the mathematical chance is still alive for the Norwegian, who won both the downhill and super-G globes this season.
"I want to congratulate Kjetil for his unbelievable performance today, he really had me sweating up top before I started and I knew I had to give my total 100 percent. But it all comes down to if Kjetil does the slalom or not", Hirscher said of the battle for the Overall Title.
Hirscher has five podium finishes this year in the slalom in contrast to just one DNF, which happened in January in Wengen. Jasnrud’s best-ever finish in the slalom came in 2005 in Beaver Creek where he ended in fourth place. The last time the Norwegian finished in the Top-30 in a World Cup slalom was in 2011 in Alta Badia.
Hirscher finished today’s race in fourth place. Earning bragging rights on the day was Jansrud’s teammate and junior sensation Henrik Krisoffersen who led already after the first run and ended up topping the field by 0.79 seconds. Germany’s Fritz Dopfer finished in second place, trailed by Thomas Fanara (FRA), who gave the Meribel fans reason to wave their red, white and blue flags.
"It is an unbelievable moment. Ted (Ligety) has been dominating the GS for the last few years and it was a long wait to get closer to him so for me it is very satisfying today", said Hirscher of winning the giant slalom globe.
Hirscher entered today's race with a 185-point lead over Alexis Pinturault (FRA) in the giant slalom taking a bit of the pressure off for the Austrian in the race for the small globe. Ultimately, the Pinturault finished 203 points behind Hirscher, while Ted Ligety rounded out the top three in the season standings for the event.
Today’s results mean that both the ladies’ and men’s 2014/15 Overall Titles will come down to the final race. For the ladies it is a battle between Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze, who have a mere 18 point difference, while the men will feature the duel between Hirscher and Jansrud.
The Audi FIS World Cup 2014/15 season will come to a close tomorrow when the men race the slalom, while the ladies’ wrap-up their season with a giant slalom in Meribel (FRA).