Annual highlight Val Thorens up next for Audi ski cross World Cup
Val Thorens, FRA – After an epic Audi ski cross World Cup opening weekend at a brand-new venue in Montafon, Austria, the men and ladies of the SX tour have moved to what has come to be the most iconic venue on the circuit, way up on high in Val Thorens, France.
A venue on the Audi ski cross World Cup for four seasons now – including the 2012/13 season, when the resort played host to the tour on two separate occasions – Val Thorens has established itself as the biggest, baddest, most challenging ski cross course in the world, making it a true highlight every season. Named after Sochi 2014 Olympic champion and Val Thorens' favourite native son Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA), the course at Val Thorens will challenge athletes with everything that makes ski cross great.
Last weekend the French team - last season's ski cross Nations Cup-winning squad - were shut out of the podium in Austria, and you can expect them to be coming into the first of two home events for this season with a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder.
As mentioned above, the ski cross course at Val Thorens is named after Jean Fred Chapuis, and all around town his name and image greets visitors from banners, storefronts, and advertisements. Voss 2013 world champion, Sochi 2015 Olympic champion, and 2014/15 World Cup champion, Chapuis has won nearly all there is to win in ski cross, establishing himself as arguably the best in the world while at it.
However, Chapuis has yet to claim victory at his home resort, and one has to assume that this fact weighs on his mind every time he glides under the permanent wooden sign bearing his name on his way to the Val Thorens start gate. With two races in which get the job done this weekend, there's a very good chance Chapuis finally triumphs on his home slope.
Last weekend in Montafon it was all about Canada Ski Cross, with Marielle Thompson taking top spot for the ladies and Christopher Delbosco and Brady Leman going one-two on the men's side.
For Thompson, the performance was a simple picking back up right where she left off when she suffered a torn meniscus last season at the Kreischberg 2015 world championships. Before her injury she had three victories in three starts on the 2014/15 season, and based on the strength of her performance in Montafon it looks like she's gearing up for a repeat this year. And, with three straight victories at Val Thorens heading into this year's edition, you would be foolish to bet against her this weekend.
Her biggest competition should come once again from Anna Holmlund (SWE), though Andrea Limbacher (AUT) and Alizee Baron (FRA) have had some success at Val Thorens in the past.
For the Canadian men – especially Delbosco – Montafon was an encouraging start to the season after some trials and tribulation over the last couple of World Cup seasons. A reinvigorated Delbosco especially will be one to watch in Val Thorens, as before last weekend's victory in Montafon his most recent victory came on the Val Tho slope back in January 2014.
Last year Marc Bischofberger (SUI) scored his first career win in Val Thorens, while Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE) has three career podiums here, though an injured back may keep him out of competition this weekend.
Notable on the ladies' side is the return of Ophelie David (FRA), the winningest ski cross athlete of all time and one of the true legends of the sport. David missed the World Cup opener in Montafon, and will be hungry to establish herself as a top competitor once again in this her 14th season on the ski cross World Cup.
Action in Val Thorens gets underway on Thursday, December 10, with two sets of qualifications, followed by a first race on Friday and second on Saturday.