Sveriges Alpina Nationalarenan, Åre – The 36th edition of the FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships wrapped up today under threatening skies but firm racing conditions. The men took to the same slopes that will host the world in 2019 for their final event, the men’s slalom.
An up-tempo, tight slalom set on the varied slalom hill triggered an enormous exit from the first run, with only 49 of 130 athletes making it to the finish. Causalities from the first run included the marquee athlete of the event: Loic Meillard (SUI) and four of the Canadian contingent: Jack Crawford (Whistler Mt.), William Bruneau-Bouchard (le Massif) Jeffrey Read (Banff Alpine) and Sam Mulligan (Grouse Mt.).
Norwegian athletes Timon Haugan and Bjoern Brudevall stood 1-2 after the first run with a substantial lead, but the second run would take it’s toll. As the final racer of the top 30, the crowd was waiting for Haugan, who skidded out just before the steep final pitch which prompted a loud reaction from the large number of Norwegian spectators who had travelled to Åre. In this final race of the Championship, Adrian Pertl (AUT) overcame a 0.88 deficit to capture gold, narrowly beating Brudevall. Simon Esmonov (RUS) took the bronze.
Simon Fournier (Tremblant) and Huston Philp (Banff Alpine) made good use of moving into the top 30 after the first run. Simon moved up from 46th start position to place 20th and Huston from 41st to place 24th. Both delivered solid races in the 2nd run, with Simon placing 6th in the run to move up to 14th and Huston placing 4th in the run to end up 16th.
Marc Hodler Trophy Awarded
The final award of the Championship is the prestigious Marc Hodler Trophy which recognizes the top nation. Austria easily defended with a commanding win over Switzerland and Italy. Canada ended up 6th.
For the first time, 15 nations were ranked. Which means athletes from 15 different countries placed in the top 10, which demonstrates the widening appeal of alpine ski racing worldwide.
On the medal chart, Austria led the way with a command performance capturing 12 medals. Switzerland took 2nd, the USA 3rd and Canada tied for 4th. Of note: 11 nations won medals.
The Closing Ceremonies wrapped up with four athletes from host nation Sweden passing the FIS Flag on to four athletes from Switzerland who will host the 2018 Championship. Europe’s highest city – Davos – which will host the best junior athletes of the world next winter January 29 to February 10, 2018.
Tusen Takk (a thousand thanks) goes to Hans Olsson, the boss of the 2017 World Juniors and Chief of Race for the men along with his Team of volunteers and professionals who worked long hours to set a new standard of excellence in hosting this important event which profiles the future champions of alpine ski racing.
There will be one more column about the World Juniors, to be posted in coming days. This will focus on the importance of the World Juniors, to our sport, to competing nations and to the athletes.