Welcome to Gravity, our weekly show dedicated to Alpine skiing. The World Championships are drawing to a close and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher looks set to clinch the men’s slalom in Beaver Creek after dominating his opponents in the first run. Let’s see together if the reigning champion was able to hold on to the top spot.
Grange clinches World Championship slalom
Jean-Baptiste Grange produced a stunning peformance to hand the French team their first gold medal of the World Championships as Marcel Hirscher slipped up with the finish-line in sight.
The 30-year-old, who was 0.88 seconds behind the leader going into the second run, stormed down the Birds of Prey course in a combined time of 1 minute, 57.47 seconds, enough to beat Germany’s Fritz Dopfer while fellow countryman Felix Neureuther completed the podium.
At the summit
Austria’s Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze of Slovenia will remain the undisputed snow queens of these World Championships. Both skiers left Colorado with two gold medals and a silver each.
Local hero Lindsey Vonn endured a disappointing tournament as she could only finish third in the Super-G but it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the American crowd as Mikaela Shiffrin dominated the slalom. The 19-year-old, who took Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Games, looked in great shape and completed the course in a winning time of 1 minute and 38.48 seconds. Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter came home second, 0.34 seconds behind while Sarka Strachova of the Czech Republic took bronze.
With 6 titles in 11 races, Austria finished atop the medals table and justified their status as the team to beat. We met up with our expert Frank Piccard who said this result didn’t come as a big surprise and explained why Marcel Hirscher and his team-mates have dominated the World Championships.
Former Olympic Champion Frank Piccard: ‘‘Austria has always been a strong team. Skiing is the country’s national sport so these athletes are well-known and respected. If you’re gifted, people will recognise you no matter your age. Skiing over there is the equivalent of football in France. Young talents are looking to emulate their predecessors and I think this kind of respect is an important factor when it comes to developing a sport. Kids want to follow in the footsteps of legends like Hermann Maier and I think this is also why this discipline is still going strong in Austria.’‘
Before Hermann Maier, another big name came close to joining the Austrian team. Marc Girardelli was born in Vorarlberg but chose to represent another country. We wanted to share his story in ‘Skiing Past’.
It’s the 26th February 1989 and Marc Girardelli is competing in the World Cup in North America. The 26-year-old, who joined the Luxembourg team due to disagreements with the Austrian federation, has proved too strong for his opponents in the Super-G held in Whistler. Having also triumphed in the slalom, the combined, the downhill and the giant slalom, Girardelli’s record of five wins in five World Cup disciplines in a single season still stands to this day. He will retire at the age of 33 having clinched five crystal globes, one more than arch rival Pirmin Zurbriggen of Switzerland.
See you next Sunday for another edition of Gravity. In the meantime, we end the programme with some of the best moments from the Freeride World Championships. Hazel Josie Birnbaum and Sam Smoothy prevailed in Andorra, giving them a major boost ahead of the next event which gets underway in Alaska on March 13. It’s snowtime!