Welcome to this season’s first edition of “Gravity”, a programme dedicated to the world of Alpine skiing.
We begin with the men’s slalom race in Levi, in northern Finland. No real surprises on the day with three pre-race favourites on the podium.
Henrik Kristoffersen defied the foggy conditions at the World Cup’s most northern venue to win the season’s slalom opener.
Bronze medallist at the Sochi Winter Olympics at the start of the year, Kristoffersen continued to highlight his slalom credentials with two fine runs in Levi.
The 20-year-old Norwegian clocked a combined winning time of one minute, 50.39 seconds.
It is his second career win and comes just under ten months after his first in Schladming, Austria.
Austria’s Marcel Hirscher took second place.
The reigning World Cup champion was fastest after the first run down the Finnish Arctic slope.
But he failed to match Kristoffersen’s pace in the second and eventually finished 0.12 seconds off the pace.
Rounding off the podium in third place was Germany’s Felix Neureuther.
The two-time overall World Cup slalom runner-up was 1.31 behind the winner.
The men’s World Cup next moves to Lake Louise, Canada, on November 26.
At the summit
Last winter she admitted to losing the pleasure of skiing. Well it appears she has rediscovered that pleasure as well as winning ways en route to the summit. In Finland Tina Maze celebrated her 24th World Cup victory.
Maze kicked off her slalom campaign in fine fashion winning the women’s season opener.
The Slovenian headed north to Levi earlier than most – a decision she said helped her performance.
It was hard to argue with that as she glided down the course in an overall time of 1 minute 55.1 seconds for top honours.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist beat Frida Hansdotter of Sweden in second and Austria’s Kathrin Zettel in third.
Mikaela Shiffrin won the season opening giant slalom in Solden, but she could onlay manage a disappointing 11th place in the Levi Slalom.
Dispite that result and at only 19-years-old the American remains one of the favourites to win the World Cup title. She has everything going for her to achieve that according to Franck Piccard, former Olympic Super G champion.
Piccard: “Mikaela Shiffrin made it to the summit of elite skiing very very fast. She’s really young and above all she has shown great maturity in a discipline that is very hard to master: the slalom.
‘‘The fact that she can win Olympic titles, World championship titles and one season in the World Cup at this level shows that she can move into and compete well in other disciplines.
‘‘She has already done that this year in the giant slalom, and I think she can do that in other disciplines as well, including the downhill. The Super G will not cause her many problems either if she’s not afraid of speed. So if she breaks through there she has a good chance of winning the overall World Cup title.”
It is the 14 of February 1999, and Lasse Kjus is on the verge of entering the pantheon of skiing greats during the World Championships in Vail, Colorado.
The Norwegian had already won the super G and giant slalom. He was second in the downhill and combined.
In the form of his life, he had set the fastest time in the first leg of the slalom which is far from his speciality.
Aware of the stakes, he takes no risks in the second run, but still makes it to a podium place finishing second 11 hundredths of a second behind winner Kalle Pallander.
Five medals at the same world championships was a first and today Lasse Kjus still remains the only skier to have achieved this feat.
The next World Cup events take place in a fortnight with the circuit moving to North America. The women are in Aspen in the US, while the men travel further north to lake Louise, Canada.