The weather forecast for Day 3 of the 2018 World Juniors proved accurate and according to coaches reports, there was probably more than 15cm. of new snow that fell overnight on the Jakobshorn. The ladies and those men who did not participate in yesterday’s downhill had their free-ski on the Super G track, to prepare for the scheduled SG races on Friday.
So a lay day provides the opportunity for a backgrounder on the World Juniors.
Davos 2018 is the 39th edition of the FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships. Originally run as the European Junior Championships, in 1982 the FIS adopted the World Championship status with FIS medals and the designation of “FIS Alpine Junior World Champion” to the gold medalist of each event.
All of the “official” FIS race formats are held at the World Juniors, including a separate alpine combined and Nations Team Event – or, as it is now officially known as the “Alpine Team Event”, with this format now included in the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Canada is the defending champion in this event.
Davos is Europe’s highest city and home to the World Economic Forum, which annually hosts business and political elites to discuss weighty social and economic issues of the day. It is home to one of the three ski-academies of Swiss-Ski, with athletes of the eastern region attending the equivalent of high school as they integrate into either the regional team or National Training Groups of the Swiss Ski Team. (note: Switzerland assigns Team status based on world ranking, but manages their athletes in ‘training groups’ based on the appropriate level of competition – World Cup, Europa Cup, Junior.)
When Davos originally bid for the World Juniors in 2015, they faced competition from Val di Fassa, Italy for the 2018 nod. After evaluation by the FIS Race Directors, FIS Council who awards all World Championship decisions, selected Davos to host 2018 and Val di Fassa 2019. The main reason being the Italian ski resort, based in the Trentino region, did not have an existing downhill track but committed to building one.
Davos had all race venues ready, although their proposal included the 2-run downhill format for the men as the vertical of their track is 455 metres. But the 2-run format has been an approved race format since 1977 when it was first used. The 2-run race will debut on the World Cup this Saturday in Garmisch.
Davos-Klosters is one of the largest ski regions in Switzerland, perhaps not as well known as Wengen in the Bernese Oberland (home to the Lauberhorn), chic St-Moritz which is home to the annual ladies stop on the World Cup, or the Matterhorn and Zermatt. Similar to these iconic venues, Davos-Klosters offers enormous variety with the Jakobshorn and Parsenn lift complexes with a blend of funiculars which feed to a network of high-speed lifts and trams.
Davos is also home to the Parsenn-derby, a leg-burning downhill that was first run in December 1924. It’s a peak to valley downhill race from the top terminal of the Parsenn Peak to Klosters. In 1924, the winning time was 22 minutes, 27 seconds. The record time on the full Parsenn track was posted in 1990 at 3.49.37. Several prominent athletes have won this event including Kristian Ghedina, Urs Lehmann, Walter Vesti and Christl Haas. But the Parseen Derby is a “people’s downhill” for thousands of avid recreational (but very serious) ski racers.
Day four of the 2018 World Juniors is Super G action, weather permitting. Fingers crossed.
Live streaming: swiss-ski.ch/davos2018
Listing of previous World Junior organizers and results: https://data.fis-ski.com/alpine-skiing/results.html?place_search=&seasoncode_search=all§or_search=AL&date_search=&gender_search=&category_search=WJC&codex_search=&nation_search=&disciplinecode_search=&date_from=01&search=Search&limit=50