WORLD CUP SKI RACING IS BACK
23rd October 2019
A favourite wins the men’s race but the women’s GS race saw a surprise as the usualy all-conquering Mikaela Shiffren came second.
The greatest alpine ski racers in the world have been out on the slopes on the Rettenbach glacier in Solden in the Tirol for the first races of the season.
The glacier is at 3,000m and usually grants good early season snow conditions.
It has delivered again this year.
The men’s race on Sunday was won by France’s Alexis Pinturault.
His team mate Mathieu Faivre came second with Zan Kranjec from Slovenia taking third spot.
The US racer Ted Ligety was 5th and the Norwegain favourite Henrik Kristoffersen in 18th place.
“Soelden is always really special,” Pinturault said after the race.
“We prepare all summer and every time I come here I have a lot of motivation … Everything is working pretty well, I have a good team around me and good sponsors that help me quite a lot and are always working on my side.
“That’s something that brings us a lot of confidence.”
“I made two solid runs and it was obviously really hard on the second run we couldn’t see anything on the piste but thanks to all of you because that was great support.”
17-year old Alice Robinson of New Zealand upset the pre-race predictions in the women’s GS race and pushed Mikaela Shiffrin into second place.
Tessa Worley of France came third.
The 17-year-old New Zealander completed her two runs 0.06sec quicker.
“It’s like a dream for me and I’m still in shock. I was a bit nervous for the second run but I just tried to hold it together, keep my nerves together and enjoy it,” said Robinson.
“To be honest, I won by such a small margin against Mikaela I still feel really lucky to stand here.”
“You could see it already last year that she is going to be a really strong skier,” said Mikaela Shiffrin.
“I really like the way she skis and I think it’s exciting that she won today.”
GB’s Alex Tilley put in a cracking second run and won her first World Cup points of the season with a 27th place finish.
The FIS Assistant Race Director Markus Mayr and Sölden’s Chief of Course, Isidor Grüner, gave the green light for the giant slalom races to go ahead.
“The slope preparation took us very long this year. Luckily, we have had good temperatures for snowmaking and at the moment we have great conditions for training. Now we will work with water to create ideal and fair racing conditions for Saturday and Sunday,” said Grüner.
Racers, coaches and spectators headed up early on Saturday morning.
The 2019/20 Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Season got underway on Saturday 26th October with the women’s giant slalom, followed by the men’s race on Sunday.
For the first time in more than 10 years two of Alpine skiing’s greatest stars, Lindsey Vonn and Marcel Hirscher, will be missing.
Vonn, who first raced in the World Cup in 2001, retired through injury last February and Hirscher called it a day over the summer.
This season Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) is eager to defend her Overall title against giant slalom veterans such as Tessa Worley (FRA), Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) and Federica Brignone (ITA).
Shiffrin had 17 wins from the 26 races she entered last season.
She was the first skier in World Cup history to win all six Alpine disciplines.
This season she will be trying to become the first woman to win four consecutive overall International Ski Federation Alpine Skiing World Cups for 45 years.
“Last season was this sort of standalone,” Shiffrin told the website of the US Olympic Committee.
“Obviously, very fond memories. But I’m like, who in their right mind could possibly expect to just keep repeating that?”
On the men’s side Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) and Alexis Pinturault (FRA) willing ready to fill that empty spot left by Marcel Hirscher after his retirement.
Pinturault was runner-up to Hirscher in the overall last season.
“I am not one of those who is rejoicing at the news,” the 28-year old said when Hirscher announced his retirement.
“I would have liked him to continue because I love the rivalry, the competition and the challenge of racing with Marcel.”
“Our sport is going to miss him,” Kristoffersen told Austrian media.
See here as the great Marcel Hirshcer announced his retirement over the summer.
And read this PlanetSKI tribute.
We’ll have to wait until next month to see GB’s Dave Ryding in action.
The Rocket is a slalom specialist with the first race in Levi in Finland.
Lasy year he came 12th as he started his campaign.
This season he’ll be hoping for a Top Ten finish.
On Sunday the GB interest was with Charlie Raposo.
As the season gets underway some are asking if there are too many races.
There are 44 men’s events at 22 different venues, and 41 women’s events at 21 venues.
That’s an increase of six races for both competitions compared to last season.
No racer is planning to compete in all the events this season as they specialise more in the different disciplines.
However some fear there will not be enough time for skiers to rest between events.
“I know it’s not easy for the athletes and also for some organisers. We are now at a certain limit, there is no question,” said the FIS President Gian Franco Kasper at a news conference ahead of the weekend racing.
“We have too many races. But FIS is not here to prevent races but to organize races,” said Kasper, adding that FIS could improve on scheduling by planning the calendars three years ahead.
And here is what it looks like in Solden – do you speak German?
For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news