Michela Azzola, Dave Ryding claim European Cup slalom titles
Michela Azzola (ITA) and David Ryding (GBR) have won the Europa Cup Slalom series for the 2012/13 season. Ryding is the first British racer to do so and claimed the title after placing ninth in the final race that was won by Jean Baptiste Grange. 21-year-old Azzola won the ladies' rankings after 5th and 9th place finishes in the last two slaloms in Lengries (GER) last week. She took the title before a strong Scandinavian trio of Charlotta Säfvenberg (SWE, in 2nd with 421 points), Magdalena Fjällström (SWE, 3rd with 396 points) and Mona Loeseth (NOR). Petra Vlhova of Slovakia finished 5th.
On the men's side, on paper it looked an intriguing situation coming into the last race. Dave Ryding knew that he had to put Swedish World Cup racer Mathias Hargin behind him if he was to overturn the 2 points separating the two of them. With World Junior Champion Manuel Feller on a charge as well, the permutations were endless as the last race unfolded. After the World Cup had had horrendous conditions with rain and soft snow affecting the outcome in Kranjska Gora on the weekend, sun with light fog was the order of the first run and then the sun came out in force to soften up the conditions.
“It was all or nothing for the second run,” reflected Ryding. Going number 1 in the 2nd run, Ryding put his all into the course. There were a few errors but only little ones. Hargin had nothing short of a mare of a run and dropped down to 24th spot. The title was Ryding’s as the 73 points Feller had to better Ryding by was now impossible. When Feller dropped down to third, Ryding was 9th and the Europa Cup Champion.
Ryding ended up with 443 points, 21 points ahead of Mathias Hargin and 40 points ahead of Feller. Luca Aerni of Switzerland finished 4th in the season standings.
The rest of the European Cup Finals will be held in Sochi (RUS) this week.
Thanks to Racer-Ready for contributions to this report!