Welcome to the last edition of Gravity in 2014.
In our weekly alpine skiing programme we take a look at the men’s downhill, and the Giant of Kuhtai. Our consultant Franck Piccard speaks out about raising awareness of alpine skiing and we delve into the past to explore the short-lived career of one of the World Cup’s most remarkable competitors.
Over the line
The Santa Caterina Di Valfuva resort in Italy hosted the final stage of 2014. Luck was smiling down on American Travis Ganong, who won his first World Cup event with a victory in the downhill.
The 26-year-old hadn’t been having the best of seasons. Prior to Sunday’s (December 28) victory he had placed higher than tenth just once in sixth races, with a best finish of fifth.
But the Olympian’s win in the downhill is the second in a row for the US team. It is also a promising sign ahead of Ganong’s home world championship race in Beaver Creek, which is due to take place in February.
It wasn’t such a successful day for overall leader Kjetil Jansrud of Norway. His 17th-place finish only lightly increased his standings lead over Austrian Marcel Hirscher.
Fellow Austrian and Olympic champion Matthias Mayer came in second in Sunday’s downhill, 0.09 behind Ganong.
In third place was Italian alpine skiing champion Dominik Paris. He came in .21 of a second behind the American leader.
The men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup continues in 2015, with a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia on January 6.
At the summit
Sara Hector was a shining light in the womens’ events. She took home the Giant of Kuhtai in Austria for the first time – beating off stiff competition from Anna Fenninger and Mikaela Shiffrin.
It provides confirmation, perhaps, of the Swede’s ambitions following her second-place finish in the last Giant,on home turf in Are.
The Scandinavian battled through terrible weather conditions with low visibility in the first round in Austria, placing second behind American Mikaela Shiffrin.
But she took advantage of an excellent second run, closing the gap and finishing 9/100 of a second ahead of Austrian Anna Fenninger.
Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin completed the podium.
Since temperatures were too high to produce artificial snow, the ‘City Event’ scheduled to take place in Munich on New Year’s Day has been cancelled.
It is a shame, according to our consultant Franck Piccard. He told us he believes it’s necessary to organise events such as this.
“With this World Cup, we need to to show the public just what skiers are capable of”, he said.
“We need to reach out to them to demonstrate this kind of event, whatever the format.
“It could be parallel skiing, a three-round slalom, or a three-round giant. I’m totally open to this type of thing – we need to put ready-made combos out there. People must realise that alpine skiiers are sports people of a very high level. And for that to happen, there’s no miracle solution. We simply need to raise public awareness of the sport.”
Rewind to December 9, 1990, and a young Petra Kronberger is about to leave an indelible print on the World Cup.
She has already taken control of the downhill in the giant, the slalom and the combined. And now she completes her record by winning the super-G at home in Altenmarkt, Austria.
Kronberger becomes the first skier to have at least one win in each of the five disciplines. Add to that a world title, two Olympic titles and three Big Crystal Globes and in 1992, at the tender age of 23, the Austrian brings her career to an unexpectedly premature end, having nothing left to prove.