We’re an outdoor sport, so adapting to the weather is a constant. Today was no exception. The day dawned to pouring rain, but the forecast was actually promising – with sun predicted for 9:00am. So the planned program to run both slaloms proceeded.
On cue, the sun emerged and it was a glorious day – except the upper slopes of Rosa Khutor were inaccessible due to extreme avalanche hazard. So – no slaloms were possible.
With a quick “U-turn” the program was changed to the Nations Team Event (NTE), slated to get underway in the afternoon.
This was the fourth staging of the Team Event at the World Juniors and similar to all others, it was an exciting, raucous affair. Team chants. Enthusiastic crowds. Thrilling matches. Excited athletes and coaches. Ski racing at its best.
Under blue-bird skies 16 nations took to the 15 gate dual slalom for exciting head-to-head action. In the first round France, Germany and the USA were early exits. Round two saw Norway eliminate Canada by .10, Austria narrowly eliminated our hosts Russia in a timing decision, Slovenia handily beat Italy and Sweden tossed Switzerland.
The semi-finals were equally close with Slovenia skiing superbly and Sweden demonstrating solid skiing to move into the gold medal round. The ‘small final’ saw Norway edge Austria. And the ‘big final’ came down to a 2:2 draw but Slovenia prevailed to take gold.
This was such a great presentation of our sport. Live TV, an excited and knowledgeable announcer, big crowd at the mid-mountain deck and in the stands. Teams showing their best in the sprint dual slalom. Superb skiing, crashes, tight finishes (Austria eliminated Russia by .02) and all against a beautiful backdrop of the peaks of the Western Caucuses with a fresh blanket of new snow.
We need to do more parallel or dual events. There’s just too much fun and excitement – it brings out the best in our sport.