Cross Alps Tour finale brings back-to-back competitions to Innichen/San Candido
Innichen/San Candido, ITA - The final qualification round of the 2016 Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup Cross Alps Tour took to the storied ski cross course of Italy’s Innichen/San Candido on Tuesday afternoon, and when the dust had settled it was Marielle Thompson (CAN) and Armin Niederer (SUI) would earn the right to select first at Tuesday evening’s public heat selection and lead the way into Wednesday’s finals (the first of two competitions this week in Innichen).
The week in Innichen got off to a difficult start on Monday, with two-time reigning ski cross crystal globe winner Anna Holmlund (SWE) being airlifted from the course after a scary crash in training (more information on which can be found here).
However, Tuesday’s qualifications took place as scheduled, and Thompson was able to put down the fastest run of the day on the course where last season she crashed in qualifications and was forced to miss both of the Innichen races, not returning to competition until after the holiday break.
Thompson’s time of 1:19.31 put her just .21 seconds ahead of Sandra Naeslund’s (SWE) time of 1:19.52, while Thompson’s teammate Georgia Simmerling with a time of 1:20.74 and the resurgent Marielle Berger Sabbatel (FRA) rounded out the top four ladies on the day.
Thompson currently sits comfortably atop the Cross Alps tour leaderboard, with her three victories and a fifth-place result in four competitions this season giving her 345 points. With the injury to Holmlund, next on the leaderboard competing in Innichen is Naeslund, with 225 points, while World Cup sophomore Daniella Maier (GER) occupies the fourth spot with 171 points.
Niederer powers to top spot in men's qualifications
On the men’s side, Niederer put down a blistering qualifying time, with his run of 1:15.68 the only one to break the 1:16.00 barrier, .80 seconds ahead of second-ranked Filip Flisar’s (SLO) 1:16.48 and nearly a full second ahead of Cross Alps Tour points leader Jean Frederic Chapuis’ (FRA) time of 1:16.65.
Niederer has skied well so far in 2016/17, consistently putting down some of the best qualifying times, yet he has been unlucky thus far in his heats. Still, with a fifth-place finish in the second Val Thorens race and a ninth-place result this past Saturday in Val Thorens, he currently sits in 10th overall on the tightly-packed men’s leaderboard, with 109 points.
Chapuis holds a strong though not unassailable lead on the men’s rankings, 97 points ahead of Canadian Brady Leman, with 289 points to Leman’s 192. Third in the men’s ski cross rankings is Alex Fiva (SUI) with 177 points, leading a squad of four Swiss skiers in the top-10.
In the Cross Alps Tour Nations Cup race, a tight battle is ongoing between the Canadian squad and the French team, with the Canadians holding a 103-point edge - 890 to 787.
The first set of finals in Innichen will take place on Wednesday, December 21, beginning with the men’s 1/8 finals at 13:30CET.
The second of the back-to-back Innichen competitions and the Cross Alps Tour finale will take place the following day, Thursday, December 22, again at 13:30CET. Qualifications for Thursday’s competition will be based on the Cross Alps Tour standings after Wednesday’s race.
Live brackets will be available HERE
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