The Alpine Combined is always a long day on the snow.
This was the first time the full AC was held at the Alpine Junior World Ski Championships, as the past two years in Varna and Hafjell were a hybrid of the actual Super G World Championship in run one and then the alpine combined slalom.
With the new priority to this event to ensure to remains in the Olympics, the Sochi organizers to offered additional days in the program to run the alpine combined as a stand-alone event.
Coupled with spring-like conditions, the rough courses and challenging hills profiled strong skiing. But a moment’s indecision or lack of focus to the line, pushed up the DNF rate.
The super G track was sharply different between the top half and bottom. The upper slope was icy, but transitioning thorough the “Russian Trampoline” with the course set directly down the fall line in the face of a blistering sun (we moved up to +14c today) the course rutted badly. Heavy salting of the course helped raise the finish rate somewhat for the men who ran after the ladies on the same track.
The slalom leg was held on perhaps the steepest slope ever used for a Junior Worlds. It faced directly north so the snow kept fairly firm, but the long day and rapidly softening conditions took a heavy toll on the finish rate. In the end, only 23 of the 73 starting finished in the men and 23 of 53 in the ladies.
The organizing committee stepped up and did a great job under very difficult circumstances to pull off both events.
Only two Canadians made it to the finish in the Super G, with Jack Crawford placing 6th and Jeffrey Read 26th. Crawford then placed 11th in the slalom leg to finish the day in 5th place. Read did not finish the slalom.
One important note: for those who think the alpine combined is “on the way out” – not true. It is, in fact, part of the Olympic selection process to determine quota for nations who will compete in PeyongChang, as are the other four events of downhill, SuperG, Giant Slalom and Slalom. An additional special quota lift is also available to nations qualified in the new Nations Team Event. A World Cup title will be awarded this year (there must be 3 events on the calendar) and there are Nor-Am spots available to qualify for World Cup. So rumors of the demise of the Alpine Combined are simply that – unfounded rumors.
Tomorrow the ladies race Giant Slalom. Sun and continuing spring-like conditions are forecast.