Just days after racers crossed the finish line of the final event of the Åre World Championships, the men and women again took to the start house to continue in their pursuits of World Cup racing points and the holy grail of ski racing—a Crystal Globe.
The best male and female slalom racers in the world competed in their second and final City Event of the season in Stockholm, Sweden; the women then raced in the notorious Crans-Montana, Switzerland downhill and Alpine Combined events, while the men competed in giant slalom and Alpine Combined in Bansko, Bulgaria.
Mikaela Shiffrin Claims Gold in Stockholm City Event
As per usual, Shiffrin found herself back on top of the podium in the Stockholm City Event on Feb. 19. Still battling the same chest cold that winded her during her final races of the Åre World Championship, Shiffrin beat Sweden’s Anna Swenn Larsson in the semifinal by just 0.01 seconds to qualify for the big final against Germany’s Christina Geiger. Geiger put up an impressive fight, but Shiffrin still crossed the finish in first, claiming her 57th World Cup victory, her 14th win this season, and officially securing her sixth career World Cup Slalom Crystal Globe.
Sofia Goggia Returns to the Top of the Podium in Crans-Montana
On Feb. 23, last season’s downhill crystal globe-winner, Italian Sofia Goggia, reclaimed the top step on the podium in Crans-Montana, Switzerland for the first time after breaking her ankle in training in October. Goggia, racing for Atomic, skied a technically clean and aggressive line and crossed the finish line a proverbial mile ahead of the rest of the field. Just how far ahead of the field, however, was to be determined.
“I’m pretty happy about my race, not so much about my performance,” Goggia said after the race. “I think in the first training run I skied really well. In the second training run and today I didn’t ski as well, but on race day, you just have to be fast. And today was difficult. It was really warm, and then we had problems with the intervals [and the timing]. It was awful, I was ready to race but then they stopped me 10 seconds before my start to handle the [timing situation].”
Ironically, considering the host country’s renown for accurate timing, a timing system glitch at one of the intervals on the course meant that four racers—Jasmine Flury, Joana Haehlen, Priska Nufer, and Lara Gut-Behrami—crossed the finish without recorded times. While manual back-up timers were consulted and it was clear that no other racer came close to Goggia’s winning time, the timing system error left uncertainty about the makeup of the rest of the podium.
At first, official results declared Goggia the downhill winner, with Switzerland’s Haehlen in second and her Swiss teammate Gut-Behrami in third. However, after reviewing an official protest from the Austrian team regarding Nicole Schmidhofer’s time, race officials corrected the official results on Feb. 26, declaring Goggia the winner, Schmidhofer in second, and Corinne Suter of Switzerland in third. After times were checked and re-checked, Haehlen fell to fourth place and Gut-Beharmi to sixth place. FIS released an official statement apologizing for the error.
“The reason that the four times were not recorded was as a consequence of the set-up of the photo cells at the finish, which were mounted too high. After two training days the snow level was somewhat lower due to the multiple runs and slipping on the course as well as melting due to the sunlight.”
“FIS is therefore now satisfied that the Official Results for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup ladies’ downhill race in Crans-Montana (SUI) on 23rd February are accurate and reflect the correct times of all competitors,” FIS added. “FIS and Swiss Timing would like to apologize to all competitors, teams, media and Alpine Skiing followers for this unfortunate incident.”
Thanks to her corrected second place finish, Nicole Schmidhofer leads the World Cup rankings in the downhill event.
The timing glitch didn’t affect American Alice Merryweather, who skied a solid run to land in 19th place and add more World Cup points to her tally this season.
The timing issues in Crans-Montana were resolved by the next day’s Alpine Combined race, where Italian Federica Brignone proved the fastest woman in the slalom and downhill combined events and won her third consecutive title in this discipline at the Crans-Montana venue. Canada’s Roni Remme took second and Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener, fresh off her World Championship Alpine Combined victory, took third. Merryweather again finished in the top-30 with a 29th place finish.
Ligety, Cochran-Siegle, Bennet, and Ford finish strong in Bulgaria
After the World Championships in Sweden, the men’s World Cup circuit moved to Bansko, Bulgaria on Feb. 22-24 where the men competed in the second Alpine Combined event of the season, and the sixth GS.
As expected, the top performers at the World Championships were again the top finishers in the Alpine Combined and GS events. The 2019 Alpine Combined World Champion Alexis Pinturault, of France, proved his dominance in the discipline by also winning the Bansko combined event. Austria’s Marcel Hirscher won silver in both Friday’s Alpine Combined race and Sunday’s giant slalom and Slovenia’s Stefan Hadalin rounded out the podium in third.
Ted Ligety led the American men in the Alpine Combined standings, finishing in 13th overall after putting down an excellent slalom run. Ryan Cochran-Siegle finished in 17th, and Bryce Bennet in 25th.
In Sunday’s giant slalom, newly-minted GS World Champion Henrik Kristoffersen stole the win from Hirscher after a phenomenal second run that was enough to gain the lead over the Austrian overall. Hirscher settled in second with France’s Thomas Fanara taking third from teammate Alexis PInturault following the second run.
American Tommy Ford skied two very strong runs to finish ninth, with teammates Cochran-Siegle and Ligety finishing in 16th and 29th, respectively.