FIS Freestyle 2017/18 Europa Cup recap
With the end of the 2017/18 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 Nor-Am tours.
First up, we’ll take a look at the top athletes from this past Europa Cup season, which saw full calendars in five of six FIS Freestyle events.
Ski Cross ladies
With seven victories in 10 starts and 880 points in 2017/18, Sweden’s Alexandra Edebo was the runaway winner of the ladies’ Europa Cup ski cross season, punching her ticket for next year’s World Cup tour while following in the footsteps of her teammate Lisa Andersson’s top 2017/18 season.
Behind Edebo on the season podium was Zoe Cheli (SUI) in second and Amelie Schneider (FRA) in third.
Ski cross men
Coming back from a knee injury suffered in World Cup action at Sunny Valley (RUS) last season, Ryan Regez (SUI) got back up to speed on the Europa Cup circuit in 2017/18 by putting in a dominant performance that saw him take six victories in 11 season events for 776 points - which is somewhat to be expected of an athlete with 20 World Cup starts to his name and a top World Cup finish of ninth in his career.
Behind Regez on the season was he teammate Peter Stahli in second, while 22-year-old Morgan Guipponi Barfety (FRA) finished third.
In one of the tightest battles seen on the Europa Cup this season it was Russia’s Ksenia Kuznetsova prevailing at the top of the ladies’ moguls standings, finishing the season with three victories and seven total podiums in 13 moguls and dual moguls competitions for 835 points. Kuznetsova missed all of 2016/17 die to injury, so her impressive return to form this season is an encouraging sign for a Russian moguls squad that hasn’t had a strong ladies’ representative in quite some time.
Swedish duo Frida Lundblad and Clara Mansson rounded out the season podium in second and third, respectively, with Lundbald’s 820 points and Mansson’s 808 points just off the pace set by Kuznetsova.
It was all Sweden, all the time, in men’s Europa Cup moguls action in 2017/18, with up-and-coming athletes from the Scandinavian nation taking the top three season spots. Lead by 19-year-old Oskar Elofsson and his seven-win, 893-point season, Sweden also saw last year’s Europa Cup winner Albin Holmgren and the steadily improving Anton Axellie make it into the top-three on the year. With all this firepower it was no surprise that Sweden would take the moguls Nations Cup for the season.
Already a veteran of five Europa Cup seasons at just 20 years old, Switzerland’s Carol Bouvard stepped it up a notch in 2017/18, earning three victories and six total podiums in seven starts for 490 points, top spot on the season, and a guaranteed spot on the World Cup in 2018/19. Bouvard was followed up by Sniazhana Drabiankova (BLR) and Emma Weiss (GER) in second and third.
After winning this season’s men’s aerials Europa Cup title with 477 points by earning top-five results in seven out of eight competitions, as well as placing fifth at a January World Cup competition in Lake Placid (USA), Russia’s Kiril Samorodova appears primed to make the leap to full-time World Cup competition in 2018/19. Behind Samorodova was a group of Belarusian athletes, with youngster Dzmitry Mazurkevich in second and long-time World Cup competitor Denis Osipau in third leading the way.
By closing out the season with six straight podiums - including three victories and three third-place finishes - Italy’s Elisa Maria Nakab was able to earn 504 points while running away for the 2017/18 ladies’ Slopestyle Europa Cup title. Impressively, the 19-year-old now has top-10 results in all 16 competitions she has entered since appearing on the FIS competition circuit back in 2016/17.
Behind Nakab in second with 355 points was her Italian teammate Sophia Insam, while Norway’s Tora Johansen finished but a point back of Insam, in third with 554 points.
Continuing the theme of strong performances for the Italian freeski team was Ian Rocca who, with three podiums in seven competitions, was able to earn 285 points and top spot in a hotly-contested men’s Europa Cup big air season.
Spanish ripper Javier Lliso finished the season in second, while Simon Bartik of the Czech Republic rounded out the season podium in third.
With two victories and a runner-up result in three Europa Cup competitions, Austria’s Elisabeth Gram walked away from 2017/18 with the ladies’ halfpipe title. Throw in a pair of World Cup top-10s and it was a strong season all-around for the 21-year-old veteran of seven FIS competition seasons.
Second overall went to Isabelle Hanssen (NED) as the long-time World Cup competitor had something of a low-key 2017/18 season, while Russian freeski all-arounder Elizaveta Chesnokova finished third.
Swiss skiers dominated the men’s Europa Cup halfpipe scene in 2017/18, taking all three of the top spots in an encouraging campaign.
Tops on the list with three podiums in three competitions was 17-year-old Rafael Kreienbuehl, while his teammates Joel Gisler and Robin Briguet - both World Cup veterans - rounded out the top three in second and third, respectively.