Cross Alps Tour heads to Innichen/San Candido for grand finale

19 December 2017 20:31
The Dolomites overlooking the Innichen start
The Dolomites overlooking the Innichen start -
GEPA Pictures

Innichen/San Candido (ITA) - The 2017 Audi FIS Ski Cross Alps Tour is ready to hit the slopes of historic Innichen/San Candido this week for the final competitions of this second annual ‘tour within a tour’ that began in Val Thorens (FRA) some two weeks ago and which will wrap up here in Italy with back-to-back competitions on 21 and 22 December. 

Coming into this week’s events it’s reigning world champion Sandra Naeslund (SWE) on top on the ladies’ side and the surprising Terence Tchiknavorian (FRA) leading the way for the men after three events thus far.

 

 

Naeslund has two victories and a third place finish so far this season, with Fanny Smith (SUI) holding the third Cross Alps Tour win after an impressive performance a few days ago in Montafon (AUT). Smith, however, sits in third place behind Naeslund and Heidi Zacher, who has three-straight runner-up results to start the year.

In what has been an unpredictable start to the men’s season, Tchiknavoiran is the only skier with multiple podiums on the year, with a third at home in Val Thorens to open the season and a second at the last competition in Montafon. Russia’s Sergey Ridzik, who earned the first victory of his career in Montafon, is following up Tchiknavorian in second place in the standings, while Viktor Andersson (SWE), who earned the first victory of his career just over a week ago in Arosa, sits third on the Cross Alps Tour rankings.

Located in the Unesco World Heritage Site Dolomite mountain range, Innichen/San Candido is the longest-running venue on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup circuit, having hosted competitions annually dating back to the 2009/10 season (save for the cancelled 2014/15 competition). With all but one of the previous Innichen competitions featuring a pair of races, this means that Friday’s Cross Alps Tour grand finale will be the 15th ski cross World Cup competition on Innichen’s slopes.

With such a lengthy history at a venue you can bet on some of the top veterans of the tour having made a little history of their own under the shadow of the Haunold, and a few notables lead the way.

On the ladies’ side, the title for most Innichen podiums belongs to Canada’s Kelsey Serwa, with three victories and three runner-up results, for six total podiums in her eleven competitions here. Her most recent podium here came two seasons ago in her most recent competition at the venue, as she missed last season’s event due to injury. 

 

 

Like Serwa, Zacher (GER) also holds three victories in Innichen, including two from an impressively dominant back-to-back winning performance at the venue last season. Already with five total Innichen podiums to her credit, and coming into this week’s competition as she does with three straight podiums, Zacher could be on her way to stealing Serwa’s title as the most successful ski cross athlete at the venue with a strong showing this week. 

Over on the men’s side, it’s cagey veteran Alex Fiva (SUI) leading the way with five career podiums in Innichen (including a third place result at the second competition last season), with Canadians David Duncan and Brady Leman both sitting on three podiums each. However, anyone’s long-term history with success at the resort will have to face down the recent success of one Filip Flisar (SLO) who, like Zacher on the ladies’ side, went two-for-two to sweep the weekend in Innichen last season.

Qualifications in Innichen/San Candido will get underway on Wednesday, 20 December, beginning at 11:00 CET, with Thursday’s first competition beginning with men’s AND ladies’ finals of 32 athletes starting at 11:45, followed by the televised final round beginning at 13:30. Friday’s finals, featuring 16 ladies’ and 32 men ranked by their Cross Alps Tour standing after Thursday’s competition, will begin at 12:30, with the televised portion of the competition beginning at 13:30 again. 

 

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