2 December 2016Chemmy Alcott's review of the the World Cup season so far
With the excitement and success of the Rio Olympics still dimly flickering, all eyes will soon turn to the next big worldwide sports event - and a wintry one at that - the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.
For ski racers and all other competitors this is the pinnacle - their raison d’être. Their motivation to power through all the sweat, blood, tears, frostbite and injury. But whilst February 9th 2018 may seem far away, the hard work and search for peaking perfection has already long started for many of the alpine world cup ski racers. In order to put themselves in contention and give them the maximum possible chance of coming home with that glimmering gold medal, chasing the world rankings has already commenced.
This pre-Olympic season will fly by. And yes it holds a huge event of its own - the St Moritz World Champs. But any Olympic contender needs to find form week in week out so that when they stand in that start gate in South Korea in just 434 days times, they have the confidence that they can execute their perfect run. Hopefully the FIS's season trailer will get you in the mood!
The world cup opener in Sölden saw firm overall favourites Lara Gut and Alexis Pinturault dominate. BUT there was excitement in seeing the rise of the young Italian, Marta Bassino (third) and Austrian Stephanie Brunner (fourth) in the women’s event and the Slovenian Zan Kranjec (fourth) in the men’s race. Read more about the race in Bryony Grimes’ blog on our student partner site Line-S.
A quick (but highly important - especially for us Brits) stop to the beautiful Levi in Finland for the opening slalom events saw the same mix of experience and fresh young talent mixing it for the top spots in the ladies races. Mikaela Shiffrin, Wendy Holdener and Petra Vlhova finished 1, 2 and 3 but the young Norwegian Marine Skjoeld and the Swiss Melanie Meillard (born 1998!!) came in 5th and 6th.
Then Dave Ryding flew down the Levi Black piste for a career best finish
I have to be honest but I had to google exactly the men’s results because I can’t remember anyone except for our very own Rocket Boy, Dave Ryding. His 6th place was his career best so far and shows this is his time. He was on fire. From the first few turns powering out the start, Ryding looked special. The last few seasons he has shown great solid performances but now is the time to get excited, because he is confidently charging with the self-belief that he can and will win. Watch his second run here:
Before the tour moved to North America
For the last two seasons it has been lack of European snow which has caused FIS to panic and change venues at the last minute. This season the opposite is true and the Alps are looking immense (Val D’Isere got almost 2 metres of fresh snow at the top last week). Ski fans are frantically booking last-minute Christmas deals and everyone is raring to go. In the US a warm autumn and a lack of cold nights meant a delayed winter and the men's world cup speed tour scheduled for Lake Louise was sadly cancelled. However the women’s event, being just one week later has been confirmed and I’ll be commentating on three back to back speed races on Eurosport this weekend. I was gutted too that the Birds of Prey men’s world cup events over in Beaver Creek were also moved to Val d’Isère as I love that hill.
However last weekend saw the girls race in Killington for the “Beast World Cup”. Having waited over 25 years for a WC in the East of America, the crowds flocked in to support all the racers. Over 15,000 fans whooped as Tessa Worley found pre-injury form with awesome short pressure arcs to win the GS. However I must big up another GB performance with Alex Tilley finishing 21st but skiing far better than that - just 0.28 of a second off the 2nd fastest second run. Watch this space! This was followed on sweet Sunday by superstar Shiffrin as she claimed an emotional slalom victory in front of her home crowd.
Mikaela Shiffrin dominated the slalom in front of 16,000 people in Killington (photo - Killington Facebook)
But there’s one noticeable absentee
Lindsey Vonn has sadly been absent having again unfortunately been put on the ‘injured’ list. Having fought her way back from her leg break last season, she slipped up in training before losing snow contact and crashing down to badly break her upper arm. Doctors said 10-12 weeks, but Lindsey is a fabulous patient and aims to get back by the end of January. The history records for this season will just have to wait…
Keep an eye out next week for the five reasons Chemmy says you have to follow the 2016/17 World Cup season!