Ski cross World Cup returns to Russia for a pair in Sunny Valley
Sunny Valley (RUS) - With the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games come and gone the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup gets back on track this weekend in Sunny Valley (RUS), where a pair of competitions will take to the impressive central Russian course on Saturday and Sunday after two sets of qualifiers on Friday.
The first set of qualifiers on Friday will begin at 10:00, with the second getting out of the gate at 13:00. Saturday’s World Cup ski cross competition will begin at 13:30, while Sunday’s event will get underway at 12:00 (all times local).
Naeslund looking to lock down Freestyle overall crystal globe
The Canadian ski cross team comes into this weekend’s competitions flying high after taking three of the six Olympic medals available at PyeongChang 2018, including a second consecutive Olympic gold and silver performance on the ladies’ side for the Canadians, where Kelsey Serwa and Brittany Phelan went one-two.
Serwa and Phelan are currently tied for sixth spot on the World Cup rankings with 329 points each, but with three races to go in the season and the momentum that their fresh Olympic medal-winning performances are sure to give them heading into the season’s homestretch, it’s easy to imagine both ladies’ rankings improving over the final few weeks of the season.
However, neither Serwa, Phelan, or any other competitor on the ladies’ side will be able to catch Sandra Naesland, as the 21-year-old Swede was able to lock up her first ski cross crystal globe back in January with a win in Nakiska. While a fourth-place result at PyeongChang 2018 was a bitter disappointment for the young athlete who has dominated the ski cross World Cup over the past 12 months with 13 straight podiums, expect Naeslund to be refocused at this weekend’s competitions as she seeks to become the first ski cross athlete in nearly a decade to earn the Freestyle overall crystal globe as the best competitor in any of the six Freestyle events in 2017/18.
Other’s to watch out for on the ladies’ side include PyeongChang bronze medalist Fanny Smith (SUI), who currently sits in third place on the 2017/18 World Cup rankings with 379 points, and Alizee Baron (FRA), who will be looking for redemption after a bittersweet performance at the Games in Korea where she won the small final for a fifth place result.
Leman comes into Sunny Valley golden, but Bischofberger sits atop rankings
On the men’s side, the third of Canada’s medal-winning trio will be looking to translate his Olympic success into some strong World Cup results, as PyeongChang 2018 men’s gold-medal winner Brady Leman has had an uncharacteristically quite World Cup campaign up to this point and comes into Sunny Valley sitting 13th overall.
Leman’s gold medal triumph in Korea was truly inspirational, earning it in an incredibly tough men’s competition four years after the disappointment of finishing fourth at the Sochi Games. While his quest for the first crystal globe of his career is all but over with World Cup leader Marc Bischofberger nearly 300 points ahead of him with but three races to go in 2017/18, Leman should still be counted on to finish the season hard and improve his standing.
Earning silver behind Leman at PyeongChang was Bischofberger, as the 27-year-old continues to impress in a breakout 2017/18 season. With podiums in four of his last five events - including two victories - Bischofberger currently has 457 points to put himself 128 points clear of second overall Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) and his 329. While Chapuis can be expected to do everything in his power to try and earn his fourth-straight World Cup title, with some strong results in Sunny Valley Bischofberger could put the race out of reach for the Frenchman and ensure himself the first crystal globe for the Swiss men since Alex Fiva won it in 2012/13.
Lastly, expect the large Russian crowd likely to be on hand in Sunny Valley to be amped up at the chance to cheer on their own PyeongChang medallist, as Sergey Ridzik comes into this weekend’s competitions the newly minted Olympic bronze medallist after a gutsy showing in Korea. Ridzik has been one of the unsung heroes of the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup this season, and with one victory and four top-10 finishes currently sits fourth on the ski cross rankings. Though he did not compete at last year’s Sunny Valley event, the course in his home nation should suit his style of skiing and could see him once again on the podium this weekend.
- Sunny Valley SX World Cup competition programme
- Sunny Valley data page (live timing, results)
- Ladies’ ski cross World Cup standings
- Men’s ski cross World Cup standings
- Course drawing
- Teaser video
- 2016/17 Sunny Valley photos
- TV exposure