Welcome to Gravity our weekly programme dedicated to downhill skiing. Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, who won the first slalom of the season, tasted success again four months later winning in Kranjska Gora.
Over the line
That first win in Levi might have seemed a long time ago but the Norwegian was as sharp as ever and showed poise and precision mastering the tricky course in Kranjska Gora. The Olympic bronze medallist avoided the traps of the Slovenian piste to win in a combined time of one minute 41.26 seconds.
The 20-year-old who last year became the youngest Olympic medallist produced a storming second run to claim first place on the podium.
And another Olympic medallist joined him on the podium. Italian Guiliano Razzoli the 2010 Olympic champion was second 0.24 seconds adrift of the Norwegian. Hard to believe it was his first World Cup podium finish in three years.
Sweden’s Mattias Hargin was a further 0.62 seconds behind to take third place. But it was a day when most of the favourites for the race faltered making self inflicted errors and that was most evident with World Cup overall leader Marcel Hirscher.
He partly recovered from a disastrous morning run by clocking the fastest time in the afternoon but could only finish sixth.
Hirscher still leads his rival Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud for the overall title while the race for the slalom crystal globe is less clear. Hirscher is ahead of Felix Neureuther by 55 points.
At the summit
In Are Anna Fenninger competed in just one race, the giant while her rival Tina Maze was also competing in the slalom. Yet it is the Austrian who left Sweden at the top of the overall standings in the World Cup.
Fenninger maintained her furious end-of-season pace to edge closer to her second successive World Cup title with the win.
The 25-year-old clocked a combined time of two minutes and 24.20 seconds in the only floodlit slalom of the season. It was her sixth victory in eight races and she was at a loss to account for the wins.
“I don’t know how I can explain such a run of podium places. The only thing I know is that I want to keep it up,” she said.
In just a few days it will be spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The temperatures have already started to rise, the snow begun to melt and skiers must adjust their technique. Franck Pickard explains:
“The way to ski in these conditions is relatively the same. But there is a different sensation, a different feel like the difference between skiing on artificial snow where you have the sensation of skiing on polystyrene. That’s to say on something very abrasive where the ski gets a lot of grip. You can feel the grip on your knee. And then you ski on spring snow, it is very wet snow and there is the sensation of slipping, more like surfing or water-skiing. You have to find a balance between that way of skiing and the snow.”
Throughout the season, Franck Pickard has shared his expertise with us as we revealed the secrets of the great white circus. Now it’s time to pay tribute to our expert as we take a look at, “skiing past”.
It is February 9 1992. Franck Pickard is at the start of the Olympic downhill in Val d’Isere which is being run in his native Savoie. Three weeks earlier, out of shape, he finished back in 70th place in Garmisch Partenkirchen, seven seconds behind the winner.
So no one could have imagined he would make an impact on one of the most redoubtable tracks of the circuit with its 1000 metre drop.
Yet he defied the odds failing by just 5/100ths of a second behind the Austrian colossus of the slopes, Patrick Ortlieb wearing bib number one. Franck Pickard is happy to say that second place was one of his finest victories.
Next week we will have a special edition of Gravity from Meribel, the venue for the season’s finals of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.
In the meantime let’s enjoy some beautiful pictures from the races in Are and Kranjska Gora.