Day 6: #Davos2018 – The Swiss Gold Rush Continues

It was another busy day on the slopes above Davos with the ladies opening their speed races with the Super G and the men wrapping up their speed week with the Alpine Combined. To mesh the schedule, the men started with the slalom leg, followed by the ladies Super G race, and the day wrapped up with the men’s second leg of the Alpine Combined with their Super G.

The emerging story of this Championship is Swiss rising star Marco Odermatt, who made it four gold in a row today leading a Swiss double win. Semyel Bissig who took silver after winning the slalom leg of the Combined.

It was a day dominated by the two leading alpine powers of ski racing. Switzerland and Austria took the top seven positions. Ralphael Haaser, who won two silvers in the 2017 World Juniors, was the leading Austrian in third place, adding a bronze to his collection.

Canadians were positioned well after the slalom, with Jeffrey Read (Banff Alpine) as top Canadian in 14th position, followed by Simon Fournier (Tremblant) in 17th, Cam Alexander (Whistler/BC Ski Team) in 25th and Sam Mulligan hiked to finish so he could still race in the Super G.SimonAC_SL

The top 30 start in reverse order for the Super G, with Alexander posting 9th best time and moving up to 13th in the Alpine Combined, ending up as top Canadian. Read, booted out and hip-slid early in the Super G but still finished and ended up 17th. Fournier was 18th and Mulligan 29th (4th best time in the SG).

In the ladies Super G, it was a day of misses and attrition similar to the men’s Super G yesterday. The track down the Jakobshorn is north-facing, with no sun on the first pitch. The track is best characterized as wide-open rolling terrain, with dips and bumps. Both sets required skillful negotiation of the line to thread the needle through the dips and blind rolls. Of the 53 athletes at the start, 25 did not finish, an abnormally high rate for any Super G.

StefSG2Kajsa Vickhoff Lie of Norway negotiated the tricky set to take gold, ahead of Austrian Franziska Gritsch who added a second silver to her 2018 medal haul (silver medalist in slalom) and Swiss Stephanie Jenal added another bronze to the host country medal bonanza.

Two Canadians raced the Super G. Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler Mt.) finished 18th and Marina Vilanova (Tremblant) did not finish.

Tomorrow, the ladies take centre stage with their Alpine Combined. A reminder that all the action is both archived and live-streamed at: swiss-ski.ch/davos2018

In the Marc Hodler Trophy, Switzerland now has a commanding lead over Austria, with Norway in 3rd. Canada sits 5th.

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Photo credits: Steve Fleckenstein

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Day 5: #Davos2018

IMG_6240

The focus of the Junior World Championships shifted to the Bolgen t-bar of Davos-Platz, an ideal location to host the Alpine Team Event. With ease of access a raucous crowd was on hand to cheer on the Swiss Team which has been on a roll.

The Team Event was first introduced to the World Juniors in 2012, as part of the FIS lobby to gain Olympic recognition. It was important that all World Championship events – senior and junior – included this race format to convince the IOC. This parallel mixed gender competition was formally added to the Olympic Program for the upcoming Games.

Canada has a strong record of success, capturing a bronze in 2013 and were crowned World Champions in 2017. Two of the members of the Gold medal team are part of the 2018 Team: Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler) and Jeffrey Read (Banff Alpine), with Marina Vilanova (Tremblant) and Sam Mulligan (Grouse Mt.) the rookies to the event.

The seeding for the Team Event is based on the standings of the Marc Hodler Trophy from the previous year.

in the opening round, Canada (6th) took on France (10th). Marina Vilanova easily out-skied her competitor. Jeffrey Read showed his strong dual skills and put Canada up 2:0. Stefanie Fleckenstein narrowly lost her round, but Sam Mulligan hung on to take the win and move Team Canada into the quarter-final round.

Next were the Italians, who had easily disposed of Great Britain in the opening round. The confident Azzuri Squad defeated Canada 3:1, with Jeffrey Read the lone Canadian win for the round. This placed Canada 7th in the final standings.

Austria (ranked 1), Switzerland (2), Italy (3) and Norway (4) were the Nations that progressed to the semi-final. The first surprise was Norway knocking off Austria 3:1. Switzerland squeaked by Italy based on time after a 2:2 deadlock. With a tie, the combined time of the best male and best female time determines who progresses.

Switzerland had to rely again on the fast skiing of Aline Danioth and Semyel Bissig to break another 2:2 tie, to earn a spot in the gold medal round.

The Swiss were not to be denied, in front of the large home crowd who loudly cheered on the local favourites. Norway was no match, falling to the new Champions 4:0, leaving Norway with the silver. Austria took the bronze over Italy, winning the small final on times after a 2:2 tie.

 

 

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Day 4: #Davos2018

IMG_6228Courtesy Johan Monsen

It was an action-packed day of racing on the Jakobshorn above Davos as the men took centre stage for the Super G.

The skies cleared as predicted, but left more than 30cm. of snow, prompting an enormous effort by the race crew and volunteers to prepare the track. The start was delayed from 10:00 to 12:00 due to the heaver than anticipated snowfall. This delay forced the cancellation of the ladies Super G, which will now be held on Sunday.

It certainly turned out, in the words of FIS Technical Delegate Bernt Lauth, to be “an interesting race”.

The track was race-ready, winds light and the early morning sun had just tucked behind clouds to darken the track, but the light was good.

Marco Odermatt (SUI), skiing out of position #11, added another gold to his growing collection of Junior World Championship titles, smoothly outpacing the field by .88. The US had a banner performance with two on the podium led by River Radamus (Vail) taking silver, Luke Winters (Mt. Hood) taking bronze and Kyle Negomir (Vail) in 7th.

Cameron Alexander (Whistler Mt./BC Ski Team) put in a solid performance charging from position #21 to lead the Canadians in 5th place, Simon Fournier (Tremblant) the only other Canadian to make the finish ended up 31st.

fullsizeoutput_3f7Cameron Alexander on the awards podium – 5th place

The speeds were high and combined with rolling terrain and jumps built into the Championship, it was critical to negotiate air smoothly, maintain good snow contact and anticipate the dips and rolls to keep on line. Fourteen of the first twenty athletes failed to finish, snared by the tricky set and terrain. Unfortunately, this included Sam Mulligan (Grouse Mt.), Jeff Read (Banff Alpine) and Riley Seger (Whistler).

Such is the challenge of Super G. No training runs, only free-ski on the hill, an inspection of the set and the art of the event is to negotiate the race using experience, feel and reaction. A tough lesson learned for those who did not finish.

Next on the program is the Alpine Team Event, which takes place under the lights in the heart of Davos-Platz. Sixteen nations will go head-to-head in parallel racing action with teams made up of two ladies and two men. You can follow the action on live streaming at: swiss-ski.ch/davos2018

Looking further out, on Sunday both ladies and men will be back in action. The day will start with the slalom leg of the men’s Alpine Combined, followed by the ladies Super G and wrapping up with the Super G leg of the men’s Alpine Combined.

Canada remains in 4th place in the Mark Hodler Cup standings, as the Swiss extended their lead over Austria and USA moved up to 3rd.

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Day 3: #Davos2018

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. WJSC logo1

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.

LogoParsennderbyDavos 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&sector_search=AL&date_search=&gender_search=&category_search=WJC&codex_search=&nation_search=&disciplinecode_search=&date_from=01&search=Search&limit=50

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Day 2: #Davos2018

IMG_6216It was a jam-packed day on the Jakobshorn slopes with the ladies slalom and a unique 2-run downhill format for the men.

An approaching weather front, which threatens to bring high winds and 15+cm of snow, prompted the organizers to move the men’s downhill forward one day. As the downhill vertical is only 455 metres, the FIS had mandated the men’s Championship must be a 2-run format (note: there will also be a 2-run format in the ladies World Cup race in Garmisch this weekend). Run one in this format is staged as any downhill – first 15 select their start number, next 15 are drawn randomly, the balance of the field is by world-ranking. The second run is reverse 30 of the 1st run times.

The ladies started the day first, with less than half the field able to negotiate the water-injected track. It was shaping up to be a repeat of the ladies GS, with Austria holding down the top two positions, but first run leader Katharina Liensberger hip-slid to hand the gold medal to Mita Hrovat (SLO). Franziska Gritsch (AUT) took silver and Aline Danioth (SUI) gave the host nation their first medal of the Championship.

IMG_2300Stephanie Currie (Osler Bluff/Dartmouth) spent some time in the leader box with the 12th best time in the second run which moved her up from 29th to 19th place. Marina Vilanova (Tremblant) held down 22nd place after the first run but DNF’ed run 2. Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler) came agonizingly close in run one, crashing just before the finish.

With clear blue skies and virtually no wind, the conditions could not have been better to hold the men’s downhill. After the one training run yesterday, Canadian hopes were buoyed, but the Swiss were not to be denied. Similar to the 2010 World Juniors in Crans-Montana, the Swiss Team have a multi-year plan to build performance at a home Championship, having hosted three separate competitions on the slopes here in Davos last season, including the Swiss National Championships. Their Team came out charging with Marco Odermatt posting the leading time, Lars Roesti sitting 5th and Semyel Bissig in 9th.

Canadian hopes remained high with Sam Mulligan (Grouse Mt. Tyee) sitting 3rd, Jeff Read (Banff Alpine) is 6th, Riley Seger (Whistler) 7th, Simon Founier (Tremblant) 10th and Cam Alexander (Whistler) 12th.

fullsizeoutput_3ecThe Swiss took full advantage of home-field edge and charged in run 2. In an unbelievably tight finish, it was a Swiss 1-3, with Odermatt taking gold and Roesti bronze.  The Swiss placed 5 athletes in the top 11.

Sam Mulligan split the Swiss taking silver, a mere .02 off the top spot of the podium. Jeff Read finished 6th, only .29 behind. Cam Alexander finished 17th, Simon Fournier 18th and Riley Seger 20th.

With the pending snowstorm, Wednesday will be a training day for the ladies to inspect the super G track.

 

Men’s DH results: https://data.fis-ski.com/dynamic/results.html?sector=AL&raceid=91288
Ladies SL results: https://data.fis-ski.com/dynamic/results.html?sector=AL&raceid=91287

In the Marc Hodler Trophy, which recognizes the leading junior nation at the World Juniors, after day 2 host nation Switzerland leads. Canada sits in 4th position.

Marc Hodler Trophy standings as of 31.01.18: https://data.fis-ski.com/dynamic/marc-hodler-trophy.html?seasoncode=2018&sectorcode=AL

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Day 1: #Davos2018

fullsizeoutput_3daBrilliant blue skies welcome the athletes for the first day of competition in Davos. The 39th FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championship opened with the ladies giant slalom on Jakobshorn peak.

Defending Marc Hodler Cup champions Austria got the Championship off to an impressive start as Julia Scheib and Katrina Liensberger of Austria swept the top two spots following a miscue by 1st run leader Camille Rast (SUI) within 4 gates of the finish. Rikka Honkanen of Finland took bronze.

Stephanie Currie (Osler Bluff/Dartmouth) was the lone Canadian finisher, placing 31st in her first competition in Europe. Marina Vilanova (Mt. Tremblant) led the Canadians following the 1st run, finishing 13th but did not finish the 2nd. Stefanie Fleckenstein (Whistler Mt.) was DNF on the 1st run.WJSC logo1

Under a starry night sky the Burgermeister of Davos welcomed over 300 athletes from a record 43 nations at the Opening Ceremony. He remarked that Davos has regularly hosted winter sport competitions, starting with an international ski jumping competition 110 years ago. FIS Council Member Eduardo Roldan then declared open the Championship.

Tomorrow will be a busy day with the ladies slalom and the men’s downhill which has been moved forward with weather and heavy snow anticipated for Thursday.

Livestream of the races: swiss-ski.ch/davos2018

A bit of Davos history: The pride of Ski Club Davos is Paul Accola, who captured the 1992 World Cup overall title and 7 individual World Cup wins. Accola was a ‘all-rounder’ who performed well in all ski racing events. He captured an Olympic bronze in the alpine combined in Calgary (1988) and a silver (1989) and two bronze (1999 and 2001) medals in the World Championships. Today, Paul operates a farm located right beside the slope which will be used for the Nations Team Event on Saturday night.

fullsizeoutput_3d8Stefanie Currie

 

 

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FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships #Davos2018

fullsizeoutput_3c4The red carpet for the World Economic Forum has been rolled up and put in storage. Political and business elites have left town. This week Davos has rolled out a magnificent white carpet of snow to host the best junior alpine ski racers in the world for the next ten days, for the 38th FIS Alpine Junior World Ski Championships.

Athletes from 43 countries have gathered for the annual highlight of junior competition. A select number will race here and then move on to the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.

But all major National Ski Federations closely monitor the preparation and results from this marquee junior event. These are the next generation of champions. Some, such as Clement Noel (FRA), Meta Hrovat (SLO) and Marco Odermatt (SUI) have already made their mark on the World Cup. Most of this determined generation of athletes are learning their craft as they gain experience for the big show.

WJSC logo1All races take place on the Jakobshorn, soaring above the south side of Davos. A compact concept brings together a speed track that encircles the tech slopes.  And as the men’s downhill is 450m vertical, it will be a 2-run format for the first time.

The opening races get underway tomorrow with the ladies GS at 9:00am CET.

All events will be live-streamed by the Davos Organizers at the following web sites:

Live timing will be posted to the FIS web site and mobile app. The Davos Organizing Committee has a Facebook page with videos and pictures: https://www.facebook.com/davos2018.ch/. The home web page is: https://davos2018.ch/

Twitter: #davos2018

Hrovat-Meta_ProfileMita Hrovat (image courtest Stoeckli)

 

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