Hello and welcome back to Gravity. Although unseasonably warm weather in Europe’s Alps has left skiers and snowboarders unable to show off their skills, Courchevel was still the place to be with the French resort welcoming world class skiers for a World Cup giant slalom race.
Austria’s Eva-Maria Brem, who had placed second in the previous two races in the discipline, set the pace on the first run and protected her lead in the second to clock a winning time of 2 minutes and 1.29 seconds in Courchevel.
Lara Gut, who was seeking a hat-trick of wins in as many days after taking top honours in the downhill at Val d’Isere on Saturday and in the alpine combined on the same slopes on Friday, had to settle for second place. She was later joined by Norway’s Nina Loeseth, who secured a career-best result.
This result sees Gut overtake Lindsey Vonn for the overall World Cup lead after the American finished 13th with sunny conditions fading on the Emile-Allais course. She now leads by 58 points after 12 of a scheduled 41 races.
Marcel Hirscher made history once again by winning Sunday’s giant slalom event in Alta Badia to take the overall World Cup lead.
The Austrian, who claimed a record fifth victory in Val d’Isere last Saturday, proved too strong for his opponents becoming the first man to win here for a third successive time.
A year after tearing his Achilles tendon, Hirscher came from behind to finish 0.19 seconds ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway on the steep Gran Risa Course.
Opening-leg leader Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France ended up third while Olympic champion Ted Ligety moved up from 10th after the morning run to finish fourth, missing the podium by nearly half a second.
A consistent threat
With Kristoffersen holding on to clinch second place in Alta Badia, Aksel Lund Svindal and Kjetil Jansrud finishing first and third respectively in the classic Val Gardena downhill, Norway appears the team to beat at the moment. Our expert and former Olympic Champion Franck Piccard thinks he knows why the Norwegians have been on top form recently.
Franck Piccard: “I believe good preparation is the secret behind Norway’s success. While other teams focus on one specific skill such as speed or technique, they tend to see the bigger picture. I think this is the main reason why they are in control in all the disciplines. The Norwegians are also true workaholics and it shows. They seem to train harder. Svindal and Jansrud have replaced Kjus and Aamodt but the work rate hasn’t changed with skiers still capable of going all the way in every event.”
Let’s now go back in time to 1975, an unforgettable year for skiing fans with three skiers sharing top spot ahead of the final race of the World Cup season in Val Gardena. Let’s take a look.
The 1975 Finals became a historical event, when the three leading competitors Franz Klammer, Ingemar Stenmark and Gustav Thöni battled it out in the final parallel slalom event of the season. Klammer failed to deliver, setting up a thrilling showdown between Thöni and Stenmark. The Italian looked in great shape and took advantage of a late mistake from his opponent to seal the win on home soil.
The World Cup stays in Italy with a parallel giant slalom at Alta Badia on Monday followed by a slalom at Madonna di Campiglio under floodlights. See you soon for another edition of Gravity, in the meantime, we leave you with some of the best images from the weekend’s action. it’s snowtime!