Sunday, March 1, 2015

Outstanding Victory for Marcel Hirscher in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Marcel Hirscher’s runs was all anyone could talk about after Sunday’s giant slalom race on the Kandahar. After dominating the first run and clocking a time 1.99 seconds faster than everyone else’s, Hirscher was far from done for the day. He entered the second run as if the massive gap didn’t exist, attacking every turn of the rutty course and won his 30th World Cup race with a massive 3.28 seconds advantage.
"I tried my best", was Hirscher’s explanation. "There’s no conclusion as to why it worked that good today. I always give my best but I think today the conditions and the course setting worked pretty well for my setup and my style of skiing. Everything worked amazing. It is just unbelievable (...) I risked everything, but there were other races where I felt much better", he tried to explain how he managed to win with such a big margin.
The 3.28 seconds margin turned out to be the third biggest in World Cup history, the first two belonging to the legendary Ingemar Stenmark.
"I did nothing special today", added Hirscher. "It’s really unbelievable because I just skied. I think it’s just that in each turn I caught up two or three hundredths of a second. In general, if you do this in every turn, it makes for a big gap. I think this is the reason for today’s amazing victory".
Benjamin Raich celebrated his 37th birthday on Saturday and today’s result was as perfect of a birthday present he could have wished for.
Rounding up the podium was local favorite Felix Neureuther who seems to be enjoying waking up in his own bed and racing on the hill he grew up skiing at.
"It’s always something special to be on the podium in front of the home crowd. For me, GS is a little bit different than slalom so I am very happy with my skiing and with the second place".
When asked to try and explain what Hirscher did do differently today, Neureuther tried to offer an explanation.
"Marcel of course is in a different league. He’s skiing good. He’s skiing really good", he said. "Marcel is not the tallest guy so of course when conditions and course set are like today’s, he has a lot of strength in his legs and can turn the skis as fast as nobody else".
Similarly, Ted Ligety said Hirscher’s skiing was "really impressive. First run was like skiing in one of those kiddie ball rooms where you jump into the pit. You have no ability to get anything out of the turn. (Hirscher) was the only one able to get anything out of the turn".

Anna Fenninger Wins the Alpine Combined in Bansko

In the lead after the super-G run, Austria's Anna Fenninger managed to hang on to her position after a very solid and impressive slalom run, earning her first career World Cup victory in an alpine combined race.
Fenninger finished in an overall 2:05.06 to beat second-place Slovenia's Tina Maze by 0.39 seconds. Austria's Kathrin Zettel trailed Fenninger by 1.06 in third.
"It's incredible to think I won my first World Cup alpine combined today", Fenninger said at the press conference. "After the first run, I didn't believe this could be possible. I am really surprised. I had such a cool feeling coming down the slalom course".
Topping the podium in a combined event is nothing new to the 25-year- old, as she won the super combined at the 2011 World Championships in Garmisch.
"I am actually really proud of today's result, because the last victory in Garmisch was already four years ago", Fenninger added. "It's been a long time since I did ski extremely well in slalom".
Anna Fenninger has been on a tremendous run, as she has ranked second or first in the last five races she's entered.
"I know I can ski fast", she added. "To be consistent, it's a mental thing. It's not always easy for me to find the right rhythm at the beginning of the season. The point is too stay focused. I put all my energy into every race and don't think about anything else".
The opening super-G run was interrupted multiple times due to poor visibility and hence the slalom run was delayed by almost two hours.
"It has been a long day, that's why we look tired", said Maze smiling. "It was tough to ski. Being focused all the time waiting to go down these three days was easy. They only let us down today. I was actually really happy that we could race today and feel the terrain even though it wasn't that nice".

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Racing With Low Visibility and Flat Light. Garmisch-Partenkirchen 2015

This year the Garmisch-Partenkirchen downhill race had to be shortened as a tick fog lingered on the top section of the Kandahar the morning of the race. Luckily, by lowering the start the Organizers and race officials were able to make the race happen but the overcast sky brought another challenge for skiers - low visibility and flat light.
Ski racing takes place in all kinds of conditions but low visibility is possibly one of the biggest challenges for athletes. We talked to Croatian Natko Zrncic-Dim, Canadian Manuel Osborne-Paradis and Austrian winner of the 2015 DH race Hannes Reichelt about how they tackle tough conditions and low visibility.


Best of Freeride Junior Tour Fieberbrunn 2015 by Dakine

The 2015 Freeride Junior Tour by Dakine started on the 24th January in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. It’s the 5th season of the FJT and this year there are some significant changes which are only adding to the hype!
The most significant of these changes is the introduction of the athlete seeding list used by the Freeride Qualifying Tour for 8 years. This seeding list is a points system which dictates which athletes qualify for which competitions (rated from 1 to 3 stars).
Another change to the FJT is the discontinuation of the two age categories. In previous years the FJT have had two categories (14-16 / 16-17). This year there will be just one open Junior category to champion from ages 14-17 (inclusive).


Hannes Reichelt leads an Austrian Sweep Podium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The Austrian team’s domination in downhill continued this Saturday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The red-white-red team not only claimed the three podium spots for the second Saturday in a row but also managed to place six of it’s nine starting athletes in the top ten.
After winning both training runs, Hannes Reichelt didn’t seem to be affected by today’s multiple delays in start time due to a foggy section in the upper part of the slope, nor by the final call to lower the starting position to the lower, super-G one when it became clear that this was the only chance for the race to take place.
With a time of 1:11.90 Reichelt had a great run and after finishing a mere 0.01 seconds ahead of Romed Baumann, he clenched his second downhill victory of the season and 10th career victory.
"This is great because the Kandahar is a classic downhill course", said Reichelt. "Today from the half start it was a close race — I think less than one second separated the top 30 — so you really had to be fast to get the victory. I’m happy that we were able to race because it’s really important for our sport", he said.
Baumann hasn’t stood on a World Cup podium in just over three years so today’s second place was a great step forward for him. Of course, missing what would have been his first downhill victory by such a small margin can be a bit disappointing but Baumann remains hopeful that sooner or later the clock will be on his side.
"Today was really close, a bit like in Groeden when I was out six-hundredths behind and in Chamonix when I was second it was also a very close race. Maybe some day the hundredths will be on my side", Baumann said. "The result is amazing for our team and for our suppliers. It’s my first World Cup downhill podium in a long time. I’m very happy to give my team and especially Salamon a good result".
Matthias Mayer’s back-to-back World Cup victories from Saalbach seemed to have taken a toll on his health and he has been battling with a cold in the last few days and even opted not to start the second training run on Friday. Not feeling 100%, he was more than pleased with his podium finish and especially the fact that he got to share it with his teammates.
"I’m happy with my third place because today it wasn’t easy for me. I’m a little bit sick and tired. I’m glad the race was a little bit shorter today", Mayer said. "It’s just like Saalbach. It’s pretty awesome for us. We couldn’t have imagined that earlier in the season. Three Austrians on the podium, yeah, couldn’t be better".

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Team Europe Wins 2015 Swatch Skiers Cup

After enjoying powder and bluebird conditions for both the Backcountry Slopestyle and Big Mountain events, the 5th edition of the Swatch Skiers Cup was concluded today with Team Europe winning the famous Skiers Cup trophy. This brings the ongoing historic score of the event to 3-2 to Europe.
Just as it has always been the intention from the two co-founders of this unique competition, Sverre Liliequist (SWE) and Kaj Zackrisson (SWE), this week has been characterized by a spirit of brotherly challenges rather than intense competitiveness. However, when the battle is on the brothers bundle up for their team.
Today's battlefield was the Big Mountain. Held on a face only accessible by helicopter, riders from both teams showed off their skills and joy of skiing in face-off heats just like in the Backcountry Slopestyle event. The heats were divided into two rounds where each rider had to meet a skier from the other continent in a duel, fighting for 1 point for their respective teams each time.
Team Europe went into today's event with a 10 to 8 lead taken in the Backcountry Slopestyle yesterday. Today they repeated their success with another 10 to 8 victory, leaving the total score at 20-16 to Team Europe.

Most runs of the first round were dominated by tricky snow conditions and the riders having to feel where they could charge and where to be smooth and light. There were a few exceptions with for example Swatch Proteam member Samuel Anthamatten (SUI) showing his peers the hidden jewel of the mountain by a gap that did not look rideable. Linking it into a fun overall use of the face and playing with the many wind-created formations, it left little chances for his opponent to beat him. Besides winning the point, his run also earned him big cheers from both teams.
Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) also put on a run that stood out in his heat against the playful Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA). In Loïc's usual no-hesitation-style, he put all show ingredients into a fluid run with no signs of balance issues.
The fastest paced run of the day, packed with action was delivered by Rory Bushfield (CAN) who made it looked like the face had been groomed just for him, showing his acrobatic skills as well.
The first round ended 5-4 with Team Americas getting one more precious point behind in the overall. The second round could thus begin at an overall score adding up to 15-12 to Team Europe, counting yesterday's BCS points.

Lagging 3 points behind, with an overall score adding up to 15-12, Team Americas went motivated into the second round with their captain, Seth Morrison (USA) taking the first point against European Team Captain, Julien Regnier (FRA) with his signature backflip in the first heat. However, in the next two heats, the stand-ins for Sven Kueenle (GER) and Richard Permin (FRA) took home two more points for Team Europe: one was event co-founder, Kaj Zackrisson (SWE), who was on fire with what he afterwards called "monkey skiing". The other was a spectacular run from Freeride World Tour rider Nicolas Salencon (ARG/FRA) in a playful freestyle mode. In heat 4 and 5, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) and Logan Pehota (USA) did what they could to bring back hope to their team. Both delivered sweet lines, taking points from the two strong Europeans, Samuel Anthamatten (SUI) and Sam Favret (FRA). Tanner Rainville (USA) then confirmed Team Americas' determination beating Nicolas Vuignier (SUI)and taking the score to a close 16-17 behind Team Europe. Team Americas thus needed to take two more wins of the remaining three heats. Andy Mahre (USA) and Fabien Maierhofer (FRA) kept the suspense with probably the most even heat of the day, ending up to the advantage of the Frenchie. The next face-off was an imposed all-or-nothing strategy for Rory Bushfield (CAN) when Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) stomped a second full repertoire run, underscoring why he is the World Champion in this discipline. Rory went for it but crashed after an ambitious attempt at backflipping in a huge jump turn, thus putting a definitive end to Team Americas chances of keeping the trophy.
Loïc Collomb-Patton who delivered impeccable lines in both heats commented in the finish area: "Technically, it's the same approach as for a run on the Freeride World Tour, but the atmosphere is really special for this competition. We are all together during this week, Europeans and North Americans alike. We both push and challenge each other. For my second run, Samuel [Anthamatten] helped me a lot choosing the line and I skied more or less his line – just in a different way".
Since the battle was settled by then, Dana Flahr (USA) and Sverre Liliequist (SWE) decided to ride together in their heat, in the spirit of the event. Co-founder, Sverre used the occasion of this last heat to sign off the event with a big front flip just before the finish.

Freeride World Tour General Manager, Nicolas Hale-Woods (SUI), who delivers the structure behind the event was left inspired after a week with these superstar riders:
"The level of skiing is amazing – but what strikes me most is the good spirit between the teams", he commented. "It has been really interesting to witness how the guys helped out each other. This morning I saw the young Logan Pehota being coached by Cody Townsend about his line for example. That's the spirit that makes this event so special and we will do our part to keep it that way".

Swatch Skiers Cup 2015. Best of Backcountry Slopestyle

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Team Europe Takes The Lead In The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015

The score of the Backcountry Slopestyle event ended 10-8 to Team Europe.
On the longest ever Backcountry Slopestyle venue with a vertical drop of 600m (2000 ft), the rivaling teams threw on one duel after another of acrobatic accomplishments and unbelievable balance.
The judges of the Swatch Skiers Cup scored the runs by heats of 2 from a simple scale of win or lose. However lots of details go into the judgment of the overall impression. SSC judge and former pro skier and 2002 X Games bronze medalist Philippe Poirier (CAN) explains: "We look a lot at the style in the air, the composition and fluidity of the run, originality and of course the balance in the landings. Also, even if you know your opponent has crashed, you have to still go for it, so if you come down doing three spread eagles to stay safely on your feet, you still risk losing it".

The difficulty of the First Round is that the skiers have only had a visual check to base their decisions on. They have to rely solely on their feel for the snow and their experience to adjust the speed to the different features. Sam Favret (FRA) started out taking a point for Europe in the first heat by beating Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA) – both stomping their runs but Sam throwing tricks of higher difficulty. The next four rounds would see points going to Team Americas. Both Richard Permin (FRA) and Sven Kueenle (GER) crashed hard in their heats, taking them out for the second round and sending them straight for a medical check-up.
The first round finished of with a duel between the two Team Captains, Seth Morrison (USA) and Julien Regnier (FRA) with the victory going to Julien after Seth had laid out with a Flat3 Japan up top followed by a huge back flip off a cliff earning him the baptizing rights. He just managed to save the landing but then crashed after the next feature.
The first round ended with a score of 5-4 to Team Americas.










The second one is traditionally the round where the riders pull off their best stuff, after having tasted the terrain and felt how much speed is needed to get the air wanted in the first round.
The second round laid out with a duel between duel Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) taking the score even by beating Rory Bushfield (CAN) who almost beat the strong Frenchie by going for the wow factor, opening of the big kicker 4 that none had felt tempted to take in round 1.
Then next many rounds kept the score very close, alternating wins to the two teams all the way up to the much awaited heat of legends: Seth Morrison (USA) versus Sverre Liliequist (SWE). Both guys showed that they are not done playing yet. Seth sent an even bigger back flip than first time off “his” cliff – inspiring Sverre to send an evenly big back flip off another cliff. Both crashed but the wow factor was such that they definitely delivered the highlights of the day. Sverre got the point taking the score to an even 9-7.
Andy Mahre (USA) set up a spectacular second run but not enough to beat Sam Favret (FRA) in this very tight heat. Finally, Loïc Collomb-Patton (FRA) having stepped in for Sven Kueenle (GER) in the heat that showed the highest level of the day against Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (USA).
Sage won the heat with probably the most creative line of the day, including combination of a man-made and natural feature into a double up top and opening up a new air.










Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015 kicks Off Tomorrow Wednesday February 25th With the Backcountry Slopestyle

The Swatch Skiers Cup 2015 kicks off with the Backcountry Slopestyle (BCS) event on Wednesday at 10am (CET). The legendary event will take place on the venue prepared below the Hörnli ridge in the Schwarzsee sector of Zermatt. It will be the longest Backcountry Slopestyle in the world with 600 vertical meters (2000ft) and a total length of 1300m (4300ft).

The Backcountry Slopestyle venue has been designed and prepared by the head shaper Arnaud Kugener (FRA) and his team over the past three weeks to give the riders an optimal playground and the spectators a jaw dropping show. The battle will play out literally just below the Matterhorn on its north flank.
This crowd pleasing event can be watched live from the public viewing area directly on the Stafelapl slope (no. 52) down from Schwarzsee.

In the BCS event, the world class riders known from the ski movies, can be seen throwing trick after trick while riding down the backcountry terrain. The contest is held as team duals between a team of skiers representing Europe and a team from the Americas. This format is known to spice up the atmosphere with team spirit and continental pride, giving the skiers extra wings and the spectators a clear team to cheer for.