Holmlund and Chapuis champions in Megeve
MEGEVE, FRA – The final event of the Audi ski cross World Cup season took to the dramatic Megeve, France track on Saturday, providing all the drama, excitement, and pure celebration one could hope for in a finale. Anna Holmlund (SWE) and Jean Fred Chapuis (FRA) took the wins on the day and the wins on the season, showing in convincing fashion why they are the 2014/15 ski cross World Cup champions.
As with Friday's competition, Holmlund never trailed on Saturday, running away with heat after heat right up until a big final where she was matched up against World Champion Andrea Limbacher (AUT), and the strong French pair of Ophelie David and Alizee Baron.
Quickest out of the gate, Holmlund steadily built her lead while the other three ladies' battled for position behind her.
For the first third of the final Limbacher found herself in fourth behind David and Baron, but attacked smartly on a series of corners through the middle section to move into a neck-and-neck battle with David for second place.
As Holmlund crossed the line to her third-straight victory and a resounding crystal globe performance, Limbacher was able to pull away from David over the final jump and through the drag-race finish section to take second place, relegating David to third and a disappointed Baron to fourth.
While Baron was visibly upset following the race, her fourth-place finish was just one more strong result on a season that saw her finish second behind Holmlund in the overall rankings - a huge leap forward for a skier who has finished outside of the top ten the past two years.
Third place overall went to Fanny Smith, who, after missing Friday's race due to injury, suited up on Saturday in a gutsy effort to preserve her spot in the overall rankings, skiing through her heats to an eight-place finish despite barely being able to walk to the start gate.
Then, there was the men's competition, in which Jean Frederic Chapuis, bolstered by a huge fan club who had travelled from his hometown of Val Thorens, skied one of the most clinical races you are likely to see, making moves both smart and strong on his way to the big final.
There, he pulled out of the gate to a narrow lead, followed by Paul Eckert (GER) and Bastien Midol (FRA), with Brady Leman (CAN) bringing up the rear.
It looked for all intents and purposes like that was the way thing would finish, as Leman seemed unable to make up much ground or find an opening for a pass. Then, through a technical hip jump into hard right turn feature, Leman dropped low, loaded up his skis, and popped over the hip and underneath both Midol and Eckert into second place.
Leman wouldn't be able to catch Chapuis, who crossed the line in first place to a French crowd teeming in celebration, but he did put down one of the great passes we've seen this year to bag himself an impressive podium in season finale.
Eckert's third place finish was his second podium in a season that has seen him forced to settle for more fourth-place finishes than he would probably like to think about, and it was a fitting end to 2014/15 for perhaps the strongest member of the German team.
Midol's fourth place finish on the day ensured an overall ranking of third on the season, while Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE) would finish 2014/15 ranked second overall for the men.
Deborah Pixner (ITA) and Sergei Ridzik (RUS) were awarded the 2014/15 ski cross Rookie of the Year awards.
There is still much to be decided before the end of the FIS Freestyle 2014/15 World Cup season tomorrow. Anna Holmlund currently sits atop the Freestyle overall ranking, though US moguls legend Hannah Kearney, currently in second, has one last event to ski on Sunday. Further, Canada and the USA are currently separated by only 100 points in the Freestyle Nations Cup race, and nothing on that front will be decided for certain until today's Silvaplana slopestyle and tomorrow's Megeve dual moguls results come in.
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