Cross Alps Tour rolls into Arosa for nighttime sprint event
Arosa, SUI - The second leg, and the third competition, of the 2016 Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup Cross Alps tour takes place tonight, December 13, as the 1000km journey through the Alps hits Arosa (SUI) for a nighttime competition under the lights.
Last season Arosa hosted the first-ever ski cross World Cup sprint event, featuring standard four-abreast ski cross racing on a course roughly half the length of a traditional ski cross venue. This season Arosa once again gets to host a little bit of history, with tonight’s competition being the first-ever nighttime sprint event.
Qualifications on the 450m Arosa course took place on Monday evening and, at least on the men’s side, the results were occasionally surprising and shockingly tight.
Firstly though, on the ladies’ end of things, things went a little more according to the script, with Marielle Thompson (CAN), currently ranked second-overall on the Cross Alps Tour leaderboard, earning top spot with a time of 27.56. Seventeen hundredths of a second behind in second was Tour leader Anna Holmlund (SWE), while Holmlund’s teammate Sandra Naeslund, third overall on the Tour, took also third spot in qualifications, just .04 seconds behind Holmlund.
Rounding out the top four and earning herself the final spot as a “selector” at the public heat selection slated to take place just before the competition this evening was Marte Hoeie Gjefsen (NOR), who continues a resurgent start to the 2016/17 season after struggling somewhat in 2015/16.
And then there was the men’s side, where just .57 seconds separated top ranked Ryan Regez (SUI) from 32rd overall qualifier Michael Forslund (SWE). Regez himself earned top spot by the barest of margins, edging Brant Crossan (USA) by just .01 seconds for what is easily the best qualifying result of the 23-year-olds career.
In fact, with a qualification top-three rounded out by second-year World Cup skier Canadian Kevin Drury (himself just .08 back of Regez), we are looking tonight at one of the most inexperienced set of ski cross athletes to lead the way into finals that the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup has seen in a considerable time.
Along with Regez, the host Swiss men had a hugely impressive qualifications at their home event, with current World Cup leader Alex Fiva qualifying in fourth, Marc Bischofberger in sixth, and young Romain Detraz, in just his eighth World Cup start, ending the evening in seventh.
All of the above mentioned athletes, along with fifth-place qualifier Filip Flisar (SLO) and eighth-place qualifier Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA), will have the opportunity to choose their opponents for the opening heats of Tuesday’s race. With so many strong veterans spread out between ninth and 32nd spot in the strong field, there will be some interesting choices indeed to be made for the likes of Regez, Crossan, Drury and Detraz.