Europa Cup 2016/17 season recap
With the end of the 2016/17 competition season it’s time to take a look back at the major happenings on the northern hemisphere’s Continental Cups, where some of the next crop of World Cup competitors were making waves on the Europa and NorAm tours.
Today we begin with the 2016/17 Europe Cup recap.
Ski Cross men
Before France’s Francois Place was making himself of the biggest stories of the year on the season’s biggest stage - taking a bronze medal at the Sierra Nevada 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships after participating in just THREE World Cup competitions in the lead-up, he was busy lighting the Europa Cup on fire in his first season of ski cross competition.
Place made the jump to ski cross after a successful eight-year alpine career that saw him earn a handful of Europa Cup podiums and nearly 40 World Cup starts, and he made quick work of adapting to his new discipline. With four victories, six total podiums, and 658 points in 10 competitions, Place was the runaway winner of this season’s tour.
More good news for the French team came in the form of Youri Duplessis Kergomard and his second overall performance, while Switzerland’s Bryan Zooler rounded out the men’s top three.
Ski Cross ladies
After Victor Oehling Norberg and Sandra Naeslund claimed double world championship gold at the Sierra Nevada 2017 competition the good news kept coming for the Swedish ski cross team, as 19-year-old Lisa Andersson claimed top spot on the final rankings of the ladies’ Europa Cup.
Andersson's incredible season included podiums in nine of nine competitions, with six victories, two runner-ups, and a third-place giving her 820 points on the year.
Andersson was followed up by Amelie Schneider (FRA) in second and Talina Gantenbein (SUI) in third.
It was all Sweden, all the time in the 2016/17 men’s Europa Cup moguls campaign, with Albin Holmgren leading Loke Nilsson and Oskar Elofsson in a Swedish sweep of the top three spots.
It was a closely-fought battle between Holmgren and Nilsson for overall win, with the 15-year-old Holmgren taking top honours on the strength of a five-podium season that included two victories. Throw in a 25th-place finish at the Sierra Nevada world championships in March and the future for the young phenom Holmgren - and Swedish moguls skiing in general - is looking extremely bright.
On the ladies’ side of things it was another 15-year-old skier making the biggest splash of the season on the Europe Cup season, as Ayaulum Amrenova of Kazakstan collected 696 to easily take 2016/17’s top spot above Kristine Gullachsen (NOR) and Clara Mansson (SWE).
Amrenova didn’t finish outside of the top ten once this past winter, racking up three wins and six podiums in 11 events, as well as a 20th place finish at the Sierra Nevada world championships - her first major international competition.
When it was all said and done, just five points separated Switzerland’s Noe Roth from Belarus’ Artsiome Bashlakou on top of the men’s 2016/17 aerials Europa Cup leaderboard, with the 16-year-old Roth squeaking into top spot with a win and a third-place performance on the last two days of competition in the season to give him 357 points to Bashlakou’s 352.
However, Bashlakou’s season should be recognized for the fact that his second overall was earned with just five results to his name, compared to Roth’s eight competitions entered.
Behind Bashlakou in third overall was his teammate on the always powerful Belarusian team, Pavel Dik.
For the second straight season Kazakstan’s Zhanbota Aldabergenova lead the ladies’ Europa Cup aerials standings, with this season’s result made even more impressive by the fact she managed to compete in almost the entire 2016/17 FIS Freestyle World Cup program during the same timeframe.
Aldabergenova took three straight victories at the back-to-back-to-back Airolo (SUI) competitions to close out the season and take the title, leapfrogging Carol Bouvard (SUI) and Emma Weiss (GER), numbers two and three on the final rankings, in the process.
It was a big year for the Italian slopestyle team on the Europa Cup slopestyle circuit, with Yuri Silvestri earning a win, a runner-up, and 244 points in five events to lead a sweep for his nation of the top three spots on the final rankings.
Silvestri’s teammates Kilian Morone and Jonas Seiwald finished ranked second and third, respectively, in the final standings of what is an always heavily contested and unpredictable competition on the Europa Cup circuit.
Returning to FIS competition after four years away, Elisabeth Gram (AUT) put together an impressive season on the 2016/17 Europe Cup slopestyle circuit, scoring top-10s in all five competitions she entered - including a win and a third-place to close out the season in Vogel (SLO).
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that, before her hiatus, Gram was primarily focused on halfpipe competition, with results in three World Cups in 2013. Now, with her energies in slopestyle, it appears the Austrian could be making waves on the World Cup front next season.
Gram was followed up by 18-year-old Sophia Insam (ITA) and France’s Elisa Nakab on the final leaderboard.