Ski cross World Cup rolls into exciting Idre Fjall

10 January 2018 18:37
Photo: Sophie Oderlberg/Ski Team Sweden Ski Cross
Photo: Sophie Oderlberg/Ski Team Sweden Ski Cross -
Swedish Ski Association

Idre Fjall (SWE) - The Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour is back at one of the most exciting venues in skiing this weekend for a pair of competitions at Sweden’s Idre Fjall resort, where the unique course layout and short northern days promise to make for a thrilling four days of competition.

The slightly adjusted program in Idre will now see two rounds of qualification take place, with one round on Thursday for Saturday’s race, and one on Friday for Sunday’s race. This adjustment was made by officials after it became clear that it would be impossible to get two rounds of qualification in on Friday with the sun setting around 14:30 CET at Idre Fjall’s high northerly location.

On both Thursday and Friday qualifications in Idre Fjall will begin at 11:30 CET, while for Saturday's final round competition will get underway at 11:00, and on Sunday at 12:00. 

After December’s Cross Alps Tour saw the men and ladies of ski cross make a two week, 1000km, five-competition dash from France to Italy, this weekend’s Idre competition sees a return to “normal” World Cup programming as we hit the homestretch ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. With less than a month to go before the big show in Korea and only three ski cross World Cup races before the close of the qualification period for the Games, the stakes and the excitement this weekend in Idre Fjall should be extremely high.

 

 

 

Naeslund heads into home race as favourite

The Cross Alps Tour finished with Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund taking home the big trophy on the ladies’ side after a spirited win in the final competition in Innichen/San Candido vaulted her over Heidi Zacher (GER) and into top spot. Naeslund finished December with five podiums in five competitions, including three victories and two third-place results to give her 420 points so far this season. 

With 385 points, Zacher sits just 35 points back of Naeslund, and the 27-year-old German has shown that she is capable of giving 2017 world champion Naeslund all kinds of trouble so far this season. While Naeslund will no doubt be pumped up to keep her podium streak at her home event going this weekend (she has podiums in all four attempts at Idre Fjall), Zacher could be the one to give her the most trouble down Idre’s extended straightaway finish in the finals. 

Others to watch out for on the ladies’ side include the Canadian trio of Georgia Simmerling, Brittany Phelan, and Kelsey Serwa, currently ranked third, fifth, and sixth respectively, Fanny Smith (SUI) who scored a third-place result in Idre last season and sits fourth in the current World Cup rankings, or perhaps an athlete like Sami Kennedy-Sim (AUS), who scored her first career podium in Idre last season.

 

Bischofberger leads the way tight men’s field 

After the Cross Alps Tour the men’s Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup rankings are something of a shock to peruse, with none of last year’s top five athletes really anywhere near the top of the leaderboard at this point in the season.

Instead, it’s burly Swiss skier Marc Bischofberger leading the way after a pair of impressive victories in the back-to-back Innichen races gave him 302 points for top spot on the Tour and a little bit of breathing room between himself and second-overall Terence Tchiknavorian of France, who holds 216 points.  

 

 

Behind Tchiknavorian the men’s standings are piled up tight, with only 111 points separating the Frenchman in second place from Austria’s Christoph Wahrstoetter in 10th. 

With top veterans like Brady Leman (CAN), Alex Fiva (SUI), Filip Flisar (SLO), and Swedish favourite and 2017 world champion Victor Oehling Norberg all winners at Idre Fjall in the past, slightly less experienced skiers like Bischofberger, Tchiknavorian, and third-overall Viktor Andersson (SWE) should be looking over their shoulders this weekend on a course unlike any other on the ski cross World Cup. 

The course in Idre Fjall is a unique design, featuring just two major turns before the course empties into a nearly 1km long straightway section filled from top to bottom with different features, from tricky “dragon’s back” multi-landing rhythm sections to the biggest straight-up tabletop jumps seen in any ski racing course anywhere in the world. Over the past two seasons the course in Idre Fjall has produced some of the most exciting ski cross competition of the year, and we look forward to once again witnessing the action in Sweden this weekend.

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