Today in Lenzerheide, there was no talk of globes and titles as the athletes took a break from securing World Cup discipline points to take part in the Nation’s Team Event.
In the final, it was the second-seeded Swiss team of Denise Feierabend, Wendy Holdener, Luca Aerni and Reto Schmidiger edging the surprise fifth-seeded American team of Julia Mancuso, Mikeala Schiffrin, David Chodounsky and Tim Jitloff for the title much to the delight of the Swiss crowd who was once again soaking up the sun under clear blue skies.
Schmidiger came down the hill with the fastest time of the heat in the last head-to-head and secured the bragging rights for the Swiss. Austria took the bronze in the small final against the Italians.
"It is definitely a challenge to win this event", Schmidiger said. "It’s something new, you’re not alone. You’re with a team, you all have to push together to make it to the next round which is something unique".
The top-seven nations took part in this year’s NTE, meaning the action headed straight into the quarterfinals. With an odd number of teams, it meant that one team got a bye into the semi-finals. As the highest-ranked team, Austria got to sit out the quarterfinals and watch the U.S. take on France, the Italians face Sweden and Sweden compete against Germany.
In the quarterfinals, The Americans came out on top of France, setting them up for semi-final meeting against Austria. Meanwhile, the Italians knocked Sweden out of contention, while the Swiss topped their neighbour Germany, making the second semi-final match-up Italy vs. Switzerland.
"I really like this event, it’s a fun combination between giant slalom and slalom and it was great with today’s weather", said Schiffrin after the race. "You definitely have to be ready to go and get out of the gate fast. That seems to be the key".
In the much-anticipated semi-final between the Americans and Austrians, it was the U.S. technical skiers proving to be too much for Austria as the North Americans took the upset win and made their way into the final. Much to the delight of the Lenzerheide crowd, Switzerland also won its semi-final meeting against Italy.
Each team had a maximum of six racers and needed at least two athletes from each gender starting each heat. With it being Finals week, the number of athletes in Lenzerheide is a bit more limited than usual.