The time has come to get out the boots, wax the skies and head for the slopes.
Euronews correspondent Vincent Ménard is our mountain guide for the 2014/15 alpine ski season:
“As winter arrives and the first snow falls across the Alps the ski season is upon us. After the opening exchanges on the Soelden glacier in Austria. The Slalomers come together in Levi, Finland this weekend.
So here is everything you need to know about the five disciplines that make up the 49 th ski World Cup.”
The downhill, considered the Queen event, but also the most risky. It is a race over a long distance descending as much as 1,000 meters with a single goal, to get down the mountain as quickly as possible, with speeds hitting 160 km/hour.
The super-G was introduced in the early 80’s, it looks like the downhill, but the course has more bends and speeds are a little lower. The skiers only get the see the course on the day of the race.
The giant slalom is the basic discipline of Alpine skiing, the one every skier learns. It engenders good technical skills. It is made up of two rounds, only the top 30 take part in the second round and the winner has the best aggregate time.
The slalom is shorter than the giant slalom with the skier expected to snake through the gates at high speed, its an event for the dream weavers.
The combined is a marriage of the downhill and slalom and sieves out the most complete skiers.
“The World Cup is made up of 71 races, 33 for the women and 38 for the men. The skiers get to flash down mountains in the Alps, Scandinavia and North America.”
Each race has the same number of points on offer 100 for the winner, 80 for second, 70 for third etc. The first 30 get points, except in the finals in March. For the last races of the season only the first 15 get any reward.
“In all disciplines the winner gets a crystal globe. Whoever wins the most points over the season wins an even bigger crystal globe.”
This season’s defending World Cup holders are the Austrians Anna Fenninger and Marcel Hisrcher, will they be able to retain their globes?
Here are some of the main contenders.
In the women’s World Cup, after the retirement of Marlies Schild and Maria Höfl-Riesch, Anna Fenninger, thanks to her versatility, is competitive in four disciplines, the downhill, super g, giant slalom and the combined. along with rivals Lara Gut and Tina Weirather.
Others in the mix include Slovenia’s Tina Maze and the American Lindsey Vonn, back from some serious knee injuries.
At 19 her compatriot Mikela Shiffrin is the best slalom skier around but needs experience in the speed events.
In the men’s competition Marcel Hirscher can become the first man to win the World Cup four years in a row, he wins big in the slalom and giant slalom.
The Frenchman Alexis Pinturault is a force in the combined and super g. The undisputed master of the giant slalom Ted Ligerty will be there or thereabouts, while veteren Bode Millar can always surprise with his brilliance. Sadly the great Norwegian Askel Lund Svindal looks set to miss the majority of the season with Achilles tendon problems.
“There you go, I hope that clears everything up and you understand the challenges faced by those competing in the World Cup.
Join us every Sunday throughout the season for Gravity our weekly roundup of the Alpine ski season.”