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Season preview: 2019/20 Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup
© GEPA: action-packed heat going down in Val Thorens (FRA)

The wait is finally over - temperatures have dropped, athletes are back on snow and ski resorts have been getting ready for some serious World Cup business!

This year, the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup will have its traditional kick-off with the Cross Alps Tour – 6 races in 4 venues within 17 days – and the start will be at Europe’s highest resort in Val Thorens, France. Afterwards, the CAT will move to the Austrian Alps to Montafon for one race on Dec 14th, before jumping over to Switzerland’s Arosa for a nighttime sprint event on Dec 17, after which finally the CAT will hit Italy’s Innichen/ San Candido resort for the finals to crown the female and male Tour winners on Dec 21 and 22.

Afterwards there will be a short Christmas and New Year’s break before the circuit will move across the Atlantic Ocean, hitting the Northern Hemisphere with a competition going down in Nakiska (CAN) on Jan 18, followed by back-to-back races back in Europe at Sweden’s Idre Fjäll resort. The tour will then continue in Megève (FRA) on Feb 1 before heading to Germany for another double race at Feldberg on Feb 8 & 9. The journey then will lead to Russia´s Sunny Valley resort for a race on Feb 23, after which the athletes will get a couple of week’s rest before the showdown in Veysonnaz for the grand finale and crystal globe show on March 14.

While the circuit will see the majority of its best athletes in the gates again this season (check below in our “ones to watch” section), along with the return of Australia’s big, bearded star Anton Grimus after his 19-month break, some familiar faces said “goodbye” to the ski cross World Cup at the end of last season. FIS would like to say “thank you” for their great performances over the years and wish them the best of luck for the future:

  • 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Champion Kelsey Serwa (CAN)
  • 2017 Sierra Nevada World Champion Victor Öhling Norberg (SWE)
  • Karolina Riemen-Zerebecka (POL)
  • Timo Mueller (SUI)
  • Peter Staehli (SUI)
  • Victoria Zavadovskaya (RUS)

Venues (click for more info):

Val Thorens (FRA), Dec 6 & 7 – after the season opener was unfortunately cancelled last year due to bad weather conditions, the circuit is excited to get back to beautiful Val Thorens, who has been a host to the Ski Cross World Cup since 2012. As the start venue to the Cross Alps Tour and with the ski cross course named after Val Thorens’ own athlete and Sochi 2014 gold medallist Jean-Frédéric Chapuis, it is clear that the sport has a huge value to this resort. With a big, fast, and technical course that has one of the most famous turns in ski cross, action and excitement is guaranteed in Val Thorens, and one can only look forward to the season kick-off.

Montafon (AUT), Dec 14 - This venue has been added to the Ski Cross World Cup calendar in 2015/16 and has proven itself as a perfect stop for the Cross Alps Tour. Not only is the picturesque Silvretta an exceptional beauty of the Alps, but also the event factor of this resort has been a great addition to a really fun World Cup feeling. With World Cup racing on the mountain during the day and international music stars performing on stage down in Schruns valley in the evening, everything is in place for an excellent atmosphere in Austria. Come for the incredible ski cross racing, stay for the out-of-this-world party, and enjoy one of the season highlights in Montafon.

Arosa (SUI), Dec 17 - 2019/20 will be the seventh consecutive season in which Arosa will host the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup, as the resort will be the third stop on the Cross Alps Tour this December 17th. This season's stop will be one to watch, as the Arosa stage of the Tour will again feature the thrilling night-time sprint format of competition, where the finish area is always surrounded by a big Swiss crowd as they support their favorite athletes in the best Swiss way possible. Bring out the cowbells!

Innichen/ San Candido (ITA), Dec 21 & 22 - This season, Innichen/San Candido will play host to one of our biggest events of the season, when the fourth annual Audi FIS Ski Cross Alps Tour comes to a head with back-to-back competitions on December 21 & 22, 2019. There, after battling through six competitions in four resorts in 17 days, December's king and queen of ski cross will be crowned under the watch of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Dolomites. It should also be noted that Innichen/San Candido will be host to the Ski Cross World Cup for the eleventh year in a row, making it the longest-running and most legendary stop on tour.

Nakiska (CAN), Jan 18 - It is almost guaranteed that the Northern hemisphere gets snow early enough in the season to enable a great maintenance of the slopes and provide all that is necessary to build a great Ski Cross course to be ready for the race on January 18. This will be the first race in the new year after a very intense Cross Alps Tour in December and the athletes should be returning after a well-deserved holiday break rested and ready to rock. Athletes claim that it is one of the more technical courses on the circuit, and the Canadian team always puts up a great show for their many supporters who find their way to the finish area, including school kids, families and fans.

Idre Fjäll (SWE), Jan 25 & 26 - 2015/16 was the first season that Idre hosted Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup action and the Swedes stepped up in a big way, introducing a truly unique course set-up that has lead to some of the most thrilling ski cross action seen over the past few seasons. With Swedish ski cross stars like 2017 world champion and 2017/18 Ski Cross overall World Cup winner Sandra Naeslund or World Cup veteran Victor Andersson repping the home country strongly last couple of seasons, and an impressive Swedish history of hosting FIS events dating back to 1992, expect nothing but excitement from the Idre competition again in 2019/20.

Megève (FRA), Feb 1 – Megève - after having been a regular stop on the World Cup tour for many previous seasons - was the stage of the 2017/18 Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup finals, which unfortunately were cancelled due to heavy snowfall and really rough weather conditions which did not allow for a final race of the season. Nevertheless, the circuit will return to this very chic resort for some world class ski cross action on February 1. The scenery is magnificent with stunning views of Mont Blanc from much of the ski area.

Feldberg (GER), Feb 8 & 9 - After a very successful World Cup event with perfect weather conditions last season, the local organizers are back in the mix for 2019/2020 as the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour returns to German soil with back-to-back races slated to take place on February 8-9, 2019. With the start being stationed some 150 meters below the top of the Zeigler lift, the finish placed next to the parking lot and all topped with a massive video wall and two very entertaining speakers, spectators won't miss any of the action.

Sunny Valley (RUS), Feb 23 - Located in the southern Ural mountain range, right where Europe meets Asia, Russia's Sunny Valley ski resort is one of the newest and most progressive ski resorts in the entire world, with focus on sustainability and a commitment to freestyle skiing that had us at FIS Freestyle truly excited after the resort's debut on the World Cup stage in 2016/17. Sunny Valley resort is based around a compact village that virtually eliminates the need for anything besides one's own feet to get from hotel, to ski lift, to any of the various other amenities a ski traveler may require. Meanwhile, on hill, an extensive terrain park and World Cup regulation halfpipe, dedicated ski and snowboard cross piste, aerials and moguls facilities, and a world-class maintenance crew have made Sunny Valley a resort that seems sure to be a World Cup destination for the years to come.

Veysonnaz (SUI), March 14 - The final stop on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tour will be Switzerland’s Veysonnaz resort for the second straight season. It is the general idea to establish Veysonnaz as the final resort to conclude both, the FIS Snowboard Cross and Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup tours together at this final stage, and the resort is working hard to make the final World Cup weekend of the cross season its best, with public bib draws in Sion, a big, fast, and technical course, big crowds cheering in a perfectly prepared course-side village, and a great atmosphere during the prizegiving ceremony. It should a memorable celebration once again when the overall globes are handed out this season.

© GEPA: Val Thorens is ready for take-off for the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup season 2019/20

Three to watch – WOMEN (click for FIS profile):

Fanny Smith (SUI) – the 2018/19 ski cross crystal globe and 2019 World Championship silver medal are only the most recent achievements of this exceptional Swiss ski cross superstar. Add a bronze medal from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, and the fact that Smith has won a medal at every World Championships since 2013 - the same year she won her first crystal globe - and you begin to understand why Smith is one of the most popular ski cross athletes in the sport’s history. 27-year-old Smith has more podiums than any active ski cross athlete, and this season she will be for sure back in the battle for top spot on tour after her fantastic achievements last season.

Sandra Naeslund (SWE) – the 23-year-old Swede is without a doubt one of the most talented athletes in ski cross. Naeslund had one of the best seasons in ski cross history in 2017/18, winning the 2017 Sierra Nevada World Championship gold, 2017/18 overall Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup crystal globe, AND winning the 2017/18 FIS Freestyle Skiing overall World Cup crystal globe as the top athlete across any of the six Freestyle events. Naeslund will be looking for a CAT hat-trick this season, as she seeks to win her third-straight Cross Alps Tour title this year.

Marielle Thompson (CAN) – the reigning Utah 2019 world champion in ski cross is also the 2016/17 ski cross World Cup crystal globe winner and Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medalist. Thompson has an amazing record of 36 World Cup podiums in 78 career starts, including 21 victories, and has only found herself outside of the top-10 once since the start of the 2013/14 season. After a knee injury forced her to miss all of the 2017/18 World Cup season, the 27-year-old has managed to fight her way back to the top of the ski cross world.

Not to be overlooked: Alizee Baron (FRA), Brittany Phelan (CAN), Andrea Limbacher (AUT), Sanna Luedi (SUI), Heidi Zacher (GER)

Three to watch – MEN:

Bastien Midol (FRA) – Bastien Midol had one of the most dominant men’s seasons of all time in 2018/19 season, earning seven podiums in 11 competitions and never finishing lower than 7th on his way to claiming the season’s Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup crystal globe. As well, the younger of the Midol brothers claimed the Cross Alps Tour title in December, and he’ll be looking to start strong once again in this season’s CAT win as he looks to defend his crystal globe title this season.

Jean-Frédéric CHAPUIS (FRA) – Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games champion, 2013 Voss World Championships gold medalist, Kreischberg 2015 World Championships silver medalist, three-straight crystal globe wins from 2014/15 - 2016/17, the most podiums and wins in men’s ski cross World Cup history - the list goes on and on, making Chapuis perhaps the greatest men’s ski cross athlete of all time. Chapuis hails from Val Thorens - the Cross Alps Tour kick-off venue - where the cross course is named after the legendary athlete. Landing in second place in the overall ranking last season, he will want to make sure to get back on top of the podium again this season, battling his teammates and other top athletes to reassert his dominance.

Alex FIVA (SUI) – Fiva’s season kick-off in Val Thorens will mark his 100th World Cup start, making him one of the most experienced athletes in ski cross history. He was the 2012/13 World Cup overall winner and has already 25 world cup podiums and 12 wins on his record. Finishing the last four seasons consistently in the top 10 of the World Cup ranking shows that Fiva has plenty more gas in the tank as he looks for another standout season in 2019/20.

Not to be overlooked: Brady Leman (CAN), Florian Wilmsmann (GER), Daniel Traxler (AUT), Francois Place (FRA), Jonas Lenherr (SUI), Kevin Drury (CAN)

© GEPA: Alex Fiva is going for World Cup start number 100 at the Val Thorens season kick-off

Livestream:
Perhaps the biggest news of the season for fans of FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski action was the announcement that ALL World Cup events will be live streamed on the FIS Snowboard or FIS Freestyle YouTube channels this season.
Available for free viewing in all nations where a national broadcaster does not hold exclusive rights to the event, the new live streaming agreement with broadcast rights holder InFront Sports and Media is an important and exciting one for our sports moving forward, and we look forward to growing engagement and viewership over the season as awareness spreads.

 QUICK LINKS:

 
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