Ski cross World Cup set to get back to business in Idre Fjall
Idre Fjall, SWE - The Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour has touched down in Sweden this week ahead of a pair of competitions slated for Saturday and Sunday at Idre Fjall resort.
After a tough few days last weekend in Feldberg (GER), where constantly shifting weather patterns - from warm rains to pelting snow squalls - resulted in three of the weekend’s four competitions being cut short and one, the ladies’ race on Sunday, being cancelled entirely.
However, that’s all now in the past, and with mostly calm, stable, and cold weather in the forecast and a thrilling track already in pristine condition upon athlete arrival earlier in the week, competition in Idre Fjall can’t come soon enough.
Luckily, we won’t have to wait too long, as after Wednesday’s successful training session officials and organizers announced an adjustment to the competition program, moving one of the two qualification rounds slated for Friday forward a day to Thursday. While the weather forecast for Friday seems mostly benign, even the threat of inclement conditions pushed the decision to hedge the qualification bets and give both this weekend’s competitions the best possible chance for success.
Despite this being only the second year that Idre has been a stop on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour, the resort has already made a name for itself as a uniquely designed - and uniquely exciting - ski cross venue.
While there are only four turns on the whole course, there are 40+ features spread out over its 1030m length - including a 650m straightaway dubbed the “Idre Fjall Dragstrip” that lines up a collection of massive jumps and ruthlessly technical combo features where the race can be won, or lost, with the right combination of touch and tenacity.
Coming into competition in Idre it is Marielle Thompson (CAN) maintaining a hold atop the ladies’ ski cross leaderboard despite a “Did Not Finish” result in the lone, shortened ladies competition last weekend in Feldberg. With 620 points Thompson is followed up Heidi Zacher (GER), who was awarded the win in Feldberg to bring her to 513 points on the season, and Fanny Smith (SUI), who sits just back of Zacher with 503 points. Top Swedish competitor Sandra Naeslund is currently in fourth overall, with 450 points.
On the men’s side, Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) has 669 points and a formidable lead over second overall Alex Fiva (SUI) and his 504 points, after Chapuis was awarded the victory in both of the abbreviated Feldberg competitions. Canada’s Brady Leman sits third overall with 487 points, and will be looking to exact some revenge after being forced to settle with 33rd at the second Feldberg event.
Worth mentioning, also, and even though Chapuis himself was not thrilled with the way he earned his two wins in Feldberg, is the fact that the Frenchman has now moved to within one victory of "Mr. Ski Cross" Tomas Kraus (CZE) to become the all-time leader for men's ski cross wins.
Last season’s Idre competition was a bonanza for the Swedish ski cross team, with Anna Homlund and Victor Oehling Norberg both taking wins, and Sandra Naeslund scoring a second and a third place result.
This season, though, Holmlund remains in hospital after a serious crash suffered in Innichen (ITA) in late December, and her absence is one that will be felt by all this weekend. However, with the support, love, and respect being offered to Anna and the Swedish team by all of those within and around the ski cross World Cup family, and the excellent venue and environment provided thus far by the local organizing committee in Idre, this weekend promises to be a celebration of all that is great about ski cross despite the difficult surrounding circumstances.
Competition in Idre begins on Thursday, February 9th, with the first round of qualifications slated for 13:00CET. Round two of qualifications is set to begin at 13:00 again on Friday, followed by back-to-back races on Saturday and Sunday, both beginning at 10:30CET.
Full Idre Fjall World Cup program (NOT yet adjusted for Thursday qualification)
Idre Fjall data page (live timing & results)
Idre Fjall photos (for editorial use, credit FIS/Buchholz)