Ofner, Kappacher top Austrians at National Championships in Pitztal
Pitztal, AUT - The first major competition of the 2017/18 ski cross season took place on Friday in Pitztal (AUT), with the Austrian National Championships took place in a weather-shortened format with qualification times standing in as the final results after snow and wind forced the cancellation of the final heats.
A huge field was on hand in Pitztal, with many of the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup’s top athletes present and looking to get some racing in ahead of the first stop of the World Cup season in Val Thorens (FRA) on December 8 and 9. With 52 ladies and 92 men dropping in for the qualification round, it’s clear that the appetite to race this ski cross season is strong.
Walking away with the victories were Austrian local Katrin Ofner on the ladies side, and Switzerland’s Jonas Lenherr in the men’s competition. Ofner, of course, would also take the title of Austrian national champion, making this the 10th time in the 27-year-olds career that she has held that honour.
For the men, it was 23-year-old Adam Kappacher coming in third-overall to rank as the top Austrian on the day, winning the national title and earning the first major accolade of his young career.
Other big news on the day was the return to competition of top World Cup competitor Andrea Limbacher, who earned a sixth-place finish. Friday’s performance came 634 days after she competed in her last World Cup, where she claimed victory at the Olympic test event competition in Korea’s Phoenix Park back in late February, 2016.
Since then Limbacher has suffered two consecutive serious knee injuries, raising questions regarding whether she would be able to return to top-level competition at all. However the 28-year-old, who famously won world championships gold on home soil at the Kreischberg 2015 competitions, has with her rehab and return to racing proven herself once again one of the fiercest competitors on tour, and the ski cross world is a better place with her back in the mix.
There were a couple of other returns to racing worth mentioning, including that of Swtizerland’s Sanna Luedi, and Italy’s Deborah Pixner.
Luedi (SUI), the three-time World Cup winner who has dealt with a slew of injuries throughout her career, finished fourth or Friday to register her first competition result since January of 2015. Meanwhile, Pixner, the 2014/15 Audi Ski Cross World Cup “Rookie of the Year”, finished 24th overall in her first competition since March of 2016, after also sitting out for a lengthy period to recoup from knee injury.