Two to make it true, as Smith and Oehling Norberg take back-to-back wins
AROSA, SUI – It was deja vu all over again at the second of back-to-back Audi ski cross World Cup races in Arosa, Switzerland, as both Fanny Smith (SUI) and Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE) were able to pull off improbable repeat victory performances, with both leading from start to finish under the brilliant Swiss sun.
While Smith faced some adversity in yesterday's finals, battling from behind to claim her victory, on Saturday she had no such problem, jumping out to an early lead and smartly defending her line on her way to a finish that thrilled the big Swiss crowd on hand.
“If someone had told me before that I would win both these races, I wouldn't believe it,” Smith admitted after the race, “But it was my goal to win in my homeland, and I really skied perfectly these two races. I'm really proud and I'm really happy. My best friend and my family came here, and so many people here to watch, and the organization was brilliant. I had so many people all down the course cheering for me and it was so good for me today.”
Second for the second day in a row was Anna Holmlund, and the Sochi 2015 bronze medallist was clearly frustrated by her inability to find a way around Smith, as the statuesque Swede fought desperately to generate the necessary speed but to no avail on the tight Arosa course. While it wasn't the win that she wanted, Holmlund's second-place finish was enough to vault her into the red bib and the top of the ski cross World Cup leader board.
Third for the ladies was Sofia Smirnova (RUS), who claimed her first career podium and the second of what would become a three-podium weekend for the Russian team with an admirable performance, building on what was a career-best ninth-place finish in Friday's race to out-duel Karolina Riemen-Zerebecka (POL) for the last podium spot in the final.
For Riemen-Zerebecka, the fourth-place finish was her best result in nearly two years.
For the men, Victor Oehling Norberg was again brilliant, pulling off a couple of smooth passes in his early heats before powering to the front of the big final and leading a strong final heat through to the finish. With his second win in as many days he opened up a huge 104 point lead in the extremely tight men's ski cross standings, and heads now into his hometown race in Are, Sweden, as a huge favourite on a course that he has done well on in the past.
“I feel like the happiest guy in the world right now, but also very tired and very warm,” he laughed under the sun in the finish area, “It's always nice to win. At the World Championships I was a bit disappointed with a bronze, but now I'm really happy to have that medal, and then to come here and do a double victory ahead of Are feels very good.”
Second place went to Sergey Ridzik (RUS), as the big Russian capped off what might have been the best-ever weekend for his team with his second podium place of the weekend. Ridzik impressed many with his performance in Arosa, skiing with a power and confidence that had only been hinted at in previous World Cup events.
Daniel Bohnacker (GER) improved on his fourth-place performance on Friday by taking third on Saturday, as the gangly German was the recipient of some good luck when Jean-Frederic Chapuis (FRA) nearly crashed while battling for second in the big final, losing his speed and allowing Bohnacker to slip past and on to the podium.
As mentioned, the Audi ski cross World Cup now travels to Are, Sweden, for another weekend of back-to-back races at the home resort of both of our current World Cup leaders.