Monday, January 27, 2020

Schladming Preview

The World Cup returns tomorrow Tuesday 28th with the Night Slalom in Schladming (AUT).
The Night Race in Schladming is a unique experience. Over 45’000 fans are cheering for the best slalom athletes in the World and pushing them down the steep Planai course.
The winner of the last two Slaloms in Schladming (also won here in 2012), Marcel Hirscher, will be missing.
Henrik Kristoffersen won the night slalom on three occasions (2014, 2016 and 2017).

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Daniel Yule Wins Kitzbühel Slalom

Daniel Yule wins today a thrilling race in Kitzbühel, claiming his fourth Slalom World Cup win, the third one this season after his victories in Adelboden and Madonna.
The second place goes to Marco Schwarz (AUT), showing today again that he is 100% fit again to compete with the best ones. The Austrian went very close to claiming his first Slalom World Cup victory finishing 0.12s from Yule.
Third place goes to last season winner Clement Noel. He finished +0.37 seconds behind the swiss skier. Despite a major mistake in the second run, Noel was able to achieve the podium, coming back from the 9th position scored in run 1.
Young Norwegian talent Lucas Braathen was the surprise of the day. When Yule thought he had scored the fastest time in run 1, there comes Braathen with bib 34 and takes the lead +0.33 seconds ahead of the Swiss. During the second run, the Norwegian born in 2000, was not able to keep the lead but closed in 4th position tied with Henrik Kristoffersen +0.49 seconds behind Yule, a career-best result for him.

Another Victory for Mikaela Shiffrin at Bansko

Mikaela Shiffrin earned today her 66th World Cup win. The American ski star raced in Bansko for the first time and collected three podiums with two victories (Downhill and Super-G).
It was Shiffrin's first win in the discipline since clinching the super-G world title in February in Are, and she went top of the season standings. Now she sits just one victory behind now-retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher's 67 World Cup wins, bettered only by Vonn and Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark (86).
Mikaela Shiffrin beat Marta Bassino of Italy by 0.29 seconds, with Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland 0.70 seconds back in third.
"I felt really good on my skis. I felt like I could do what I wanted to do. But I had to be really aggressive. It wasn’t always perfectly clean, but I think it was the fastest way that I could ski this hill and this course. So I’m super excited, and I think the whole team is very excited about the whole weekend but especially today", remarked Shiffrin. "These kind of races over this weekend, it’s really challenging – they are very difficult – and I think that makes the victories or these good races so much sweeter".Marta Bassino finished her fantastic weekend with two second places and a top 5 that permitted her to sit in fourth overall.
For Gut, it was her first podium after the third place in the Super-G celebrated in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the same day last year.
"I have been a long time away from the podium. It’s been a year, and it’s not always so easy. You just try to be confident and ski and work every day to go back where you want to be", said Gut-Behrami. "I just hope that I can take the feeling I had today and the last races just to put the pieces together because I’m still struggling a little bit for the balance to find the confidence on the skis. I ski a few turns really fast, and then I just make mistakes. But it’s the way I have to go through".

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Matthias Mayer Is the New King of Kitzbühel

Matthias Mayer claimed victory today in the Hahnenkamm Downhill. He finishes ahead of Beat Feuz and Vincent Kriechmayr who were both 0.22 seconds back. It is the eighth victory in the World Cup for Mayer and the second one in Kitzbühel after his victory in the 2017 Super-G. With his victory today, he scored the "double". Mayer joins Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) and Dominik Paris (ITA) among the only three active skiers to have won both speed disciplines in Kitzbühel.
Emotions seemed to never end today on the Streif. When Beat Feuz and Vincent Kriechmayr looked like they were sitting comfortably in the leader corner and ready to take their first victory in Kitzbühel, there comes Matthias Mayer and ruins their party. The Austrian skied outstandingly from top to bottom and his fast final section enabled him to take a clear lead.
"I have no words for it", Mayer said exasperated. "I train so hard for this and it’s just amazing when I crossed the finish line to a green light again, number one, with all the people cheering here in Austria. It’s really something. It’s gonna be a good party".
For Beat Feuz it's the fourth second place in the Kitzbühel Downhill. The Swiss went really close to the win today but still has to achieve his first victory in Kitzbühel.
Vincent Kriechmayr improves his best result on the Streif (4th in 2018) and celebrates the first podium of his career in Kitzbühel.

Elena Curtoni Leads the Italian Hat Trick

The Italian team dominates the Downhill today in Bansko and for the fourth time in the 53-year-history of the World Cup they took the top three spots in a women's race.
Today has been Elena Curtoni's day which made maiden World Cup victory. She started with bib 28, and she mastered the Downhill course with a smooth and at the same time aggressive skiing that permitted to beat her Marta Bassino by 0.10 seconds.
Curtoni had been on a World Cup podium three times before, but not since coming runner-up in a super-G in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, in February 2017.
Marta Bassino with bib 4 waited for her teammates and the favorites throughout the race, and slowly she started realizing that she would get her first career's Downhill podium.
Federica Brignone made two mistakes that made her lose the chance to win her first career's downhill race by 0.14 seconds.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Kjetil Jansrud Claims Another Victory in Kitzbühel

Kjetil Jansrud (NOR). The Norwegian claims the opening Super-G in Kitzbühel, thanks to an aggressive run and tops the podium for the first time since November 2018. It's the 13th World Cup Super-G victory for Jansrud, as he continues to be the most successful active skier in this discipline.
Jansrud claimed the second place in the last Super-G in Val Gardena, but this victory has a different taste and could turn around the season of the 34-year-old Norwegian. Jansrud also becomes the eight-man ever to claim a double in Kitzbühel (winning both the Downhill and Super- G) after his former victory in Downhill in 2015.
"Alpine skiing is a sport where it’s about the hundredths, and there are so many parameters within which you can win or lose", said Jansrud. "It’s a small little mistake in the gate and then you’re out. In some ways, you can lose confidence when you’re not performing the way you want over a certain period of time but you also know that this is a sport where you can slowly fight for the hundredths. For me, it’s trying to fight back to the harmony in my skiing. There’s been a little bit of struggle, but it’s never about the results, I’ll never be in the finish and be disappointed or angry that I’m not getting the victories that I am training for".Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) finishes in second place, 0.16 seconds behind his teammate. He is not alone on the second step of the podium, he shares it with local hero Matthias Mayer (AUT) who clocks exactly the same time and scores his fifth podium in Kitzbühel. The Austrian had already won the Super-G on the Streif back in 2017.
Kilde confirms his outstanding consistency, having scored top 8 results in each of the last ten Super G races. The Norwegian has been skiing fast also in Giant Slalom this season and sits in second place in the overall standings, 20 points behind Henrik Kristoffersen.

Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Downhill in Bansko

Mikaela Shiffrin earned today her 65th World Cup win. The American ski star raced in Bansko for the first time and mastered Bansko’s Downhill with reliable skiing claiming her second Downhill victory after Lake Louise’s in 2017.
Shiffrin beat Federica Brignone of Italy by 0.18 seconds, with Joana Haehlen of Switzerland 0.23 seconds back in third.
"I felt so much more confident with my skiing today. After the training yesterday, that was my first run on my downhill skis since Lake Louise, so I was really just trying to ski down the hill and just be clean if I could. Today, I felt better with my line, better with my attitude on my skis, and also better with my technique. So all of those things ended up piecing the track together really well. For sure it’s a technical track. It’s really challenging, and I wasn’t sure – like confident – I was maybe a little bit scared even", Shiffrin admitted. "So it was pretty exciting to come to the finish and see that it was fast".Federica Brignone got to the podium for the sixth time this season, while Joana Haehlen earned the first top-three result of her career. The Swiss skier had no previous top-15 result this season but posted the fastest time in the only training run.
The 32-gate Downhill on the Marc Girardelli slope in Bansko, Bulgaria is one of the most technical downhill slopes till now, and it plays into the most technical skiers.

Dramatic Falls: When Tragedy Hit Hahnenkamm's Races

The International Hahnenkamm Race is one of the highlights of the ski racing season and this winter this legendary race will be celebrating its 80th anniversary.
The race is held on the Hahnenkamm mountain (the name translates to "Rooster’s Comb"), one of the mountains surrounding the ski resort town of Kitzbühel (Tirol, Austria).
Kitzbühel will host three events of the Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup: a Super-G, the famous Downhill on the Streif and a Slalom.
The climax of the Hahnenkamm races weekend is what is considered to be the world’s most challenging downhill ski race: the Streif. Over the past nearly 80 years, this course has been putting skiers to the ultimate test and pushing them to their limits.
"I would like to congratulate everybody who’s made it down this run. I think we’re all mad!", were the words of the five-time champion Didier Cuche from Switzerland, and perfectly sum up the feeling of conquering the Streif.

Bringing skiers to the limit sometimes translates into dramatic consequences. Over the years, the Streif has witnessed numerous striking falls and also destroyed some careers.

In 1987 Canadian skier Todd Brooker was racing down Hahnenkamm Mountain, in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in 1987 when he lost a ski and crashed. It was scary to watch then and still scary today.
The 1983 Kitzbühel winner suffered a concussion, a broken nose, facial injuries, and a knee injury. He ended his career at the end of the season.

In 1989 another Canadian, Brian Stemmle, crashed into the net at the  Steilhang-Ausfahrt part and was then in mortal danger. With a smashed pelvis, he was in Innsbruck for days in the intensive care unit. Years later he returned to the Streif, but had to end his career after another Kitz fall in 1999.

In 1991 American Bill Hudson crashed in the Mausefalle. He suffered a broken shoulder blade, a fracture of the fourth thoracic vertebrae, a broken spoke, and lung injuries.

In 1995 the Italian Pietro Vitalini could no longer stay on skis in the Traverse. He was thrown over the safety net and plunged down the slope, overturning several times. Not least because of the thick snow cover, he miraculously remained unharmed and finished fifth on the second Downhill.

In 1996 several runners like Andreas Schifferer, Josef "Pepi" Strobl or Lasse Kjus fell heavily during training. Schifferer suffered a traumatic brain injury when falling on the target jump and was in a coma for three days.

In 1999 Patrick Ortlieb suffered a fracture in his right thigh when he fell on the Hausbergkante. He also injured his hip and knee. The Olympic champion's career ended prematurely.

In 2008 during a training session on the Streif, Andreas Buder suffered a fracture of the right tibia head and had to pause for six months. The Austrian never fully recovered from this and ended his career in January 2011.

Also in 2008, on his 30th birthday,  American Scott Macartney had a difficult jump and suffered a traumatic brain injury. After being put into an artificial coma, however, he recovered quickly and was able to leave the hospital after three days. In November 2008 he made his comeback in Lake Louise.

In 2009 during the last training, Swiss Daniel Albrecht fell dramatically in the last jump before the finish line and remained unconscious. The Swiss suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and crushed lungs. After more than three and a half weeks, he woke up from the coma on February 12th. 22 months later, he returned to the World Cup in December 2010. Albrecht retired from the World Cup in October 2013.

In 2011 Austrian Hans Grugger lost control during the training run in the mousetrap, hit his head when landing and remained motionless. The Salzburg man suffered serious head and chest injuries. He was immediately flown to the university clinic in Innsbruck, where he was put into an artificial coma after an emergency operation. There was an acute danger to life. Afterward, it was no longer enough for ski racing and on April 24, 2012, Grugger announced his retirement.

In 2016 the falls of Aksel Lund Svindal, Hannes Reichelt and Georg Streitberger overshadowed the race. The season was over for the Norwegian Svindal and Streitberger, both of whom suffered a tear in the ACL and the meniscus in the right knee. Reichelt got off relatively lightly with a bruised bone. The descent was canceled after the 30th runner due to the deteriorating ground visibility.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

80th International Hahnenkamm Race

The International Hahnenkamm Race is one of the highlights of the ski racing season and this winter this legendary race will be celebrating its 80th anniversary.
The race is held on the Hahnenkamm mountain (the name translates to "Rooster’s Comb"), one of the mountains surrounding the ski resort town of Kitzbühel (Tirol, Austria). From Friday 24th until Sunday 26th, January 2020 Kitzbühel will host three events of the Men's Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup: a Super-G, the famous Downhill on the Streif and a Slalom.

The climax of the Hahnenkamm races weekend is what is considered to be the world’s most challenging downhill ski race: the Streif. Over the past nearly 80 years, this course has been putting skiers to the ultimate test and pushing them to their limits, with only the best in the world able to succeed and claim victory.

Hot on the heels of the Lauberhorn Races in Wengen, Switzerland – another of the great alpine ski classics and the oldest one-, the race first took place on today’s Streif course since 1937. Austrian, Thaddäus Schwabl, won the inaugural event in a time of 3:53.1 minutes. The reigning course record was set in 1997 by Fritz Strobl, who crossed the finishing line in an impressive 1:51.58 minutes Over 40 TV stations cover the race and it is a priceless event that captivates even those who do not usually follow ski racing. Only the best win on the hardest Downhill in the world. The names of past winners read like a who’s who of ski racing, from Killy, Sailer, Schranz, and Collombin, to Klammer, Read, Zurbriggen, Heinzer, Aamodt, Strobl, Maier, Eberharter, Walchhofer, Rahlves and Cuche. From the breathtaking start at 1665 meters above sea level, racers plunge down the slope’s vertical drop of 860 m at speeds up to 140 km/h, covering the 3312 meters of the course in less than two minutes before dramatically crossing the finish line in the spectator-packed finish area. Yet the Hahnenkamm-Races are more than simple statistics, and behind these numbers lies the greatest ski spectacle in the world.

Last season the winner was Dominik Paris. The South Tyrolean managed to claim a third win in the Hahnenkamm downhill. He finishes ahead of Beat Feuz and Otmar Striedinger. Only six men have managed to win the Streif three times or more, and among them since today: Dominik Paris. With only 29 years, he could potentially join Franz Klammer (4 wins) or even Didier Cuche (5 wins) for the record. Sadly Paris suffered an ACL injury this morning while training in Super-G and has to prematurely end his season.
It’s also the third time for Beat Feuz. The third time in second place on the Kitzbuehel downhill podium.