Ski cross World Cup geared up for Feldberg
Feldberg, GER - The Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup is set to get back to action this weekend with a pair of back-to-back sprint-style races at Feldberg ski resort in the heart of Germany’s Black Forest.
Feldberg is the first of two new venues on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup this season, though the resort has a history of hosting Alpine competitions at the FIS level dating back to 1998, and last season hosted it’s first World Cup competition when the snowboard cross tour came to town.
Weather issues have affected the preparations in Feldberg since December, with an extended dry period suddenly replaced by an extremely wet and mild front just before the competition. With snow supplies at critical levels, organizers and officials agreed to adapt the Feldberg competitions to sprint events, shortening the course from a typical running time of 1:00-1:10 down to the 40-second range. While conditions continued to challenge the course build right up to the 11th hour, a huge effort has ensured that we will see entertaining, top-level competitions this weekend.
It’s been nearly three weeks since the last ski cross World Cup took place in Watles (ITA), where a pair of races resulted in no change at the top of the leaderboards, though there was some realigning lower down the ranks.
For the ladies, Marielle Thompson (CAN) was able to extend her lead to nearly 200 points over Fanny Smith (SUI) with a fifth-place result and a win in the two races, and the Canadian now holds 620 points to Smith’s 423. While Smith, who missed all of 2015/16 with a shoulder injury, continues to grow stronger in each race of her comeback season, she and the rest of the field are in tough if they’d like to catch Thompson with just six races left to go in the on the calendar.
Over on the men’s side it was a bit of a tough weekend in Watles for World Cup leader Jean Frederic Chapus (FRA), while the Swiss team celebrated a huge weekend with a pair of winners.
Though Chapuis’ Watles performance would be a considered a great success for most athletes on tour, as he had a third and a fourth-place result in the two races, the Frenchman had to be disappointed after losing the lead in both those competitions. While he retains a firm hold on top spot overall with 469 points, Brady Leman (CAN), with back-to-back second place finishes in Watles, was able to close the gap, and now sits 62 points behind Chapuis with 407.
Meanwhile, the above-mentioned Swiss continued a strong 2016/17 campaign with Armin Niederer and Alex Fiva leaving Watles with a win each. Niederer’s victory was his first in over four years on the World Cup, while Fiva’s was his second of the season, and has him sitting third overall at this stage.
While the schedule for Feldberg continues to develop along with the weather-related factors - including cancelled training on both Wednesday and Thursday - the program calls for the first round of qualifications to take place on Friday, followed by finals on Saturday, and then a full day of qualifications and finals on Sunday.