It was a quieter week for ‘On the Snow’ in comparison to the past four weeks, as most of the FIS World Cup tours wrapped up their pre-Holiday programme before enjoying a few well-earned days off to enjoy time with friends and family.
Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) wrote history as the first-ever ladies’ parallel slalom winner as the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tour concluded its pre-Holiday action under the lights in Courchevel (FRA). The parallel event was a smashing success with a big crowd and festive atmosphere. In the end, top-ranked Shiffrin beat second-ranked Petra Vlhova (SLO) in the final for the bragging rights.
On the men’s tour, the night slalom in Madonna di Campiglo (ITA) saw a familiar face top the standings as Marcel Hirscher continued his winning ways. But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the Austrian, who had a big mistake mid-race on the second run, but still hung on for the victory ahead of Luca Aerni (SUI) and Henrik Kirstoffersen (NOR).
All of the Nordic disciplines were taking a well-earned breather in the lead-up week to the Holiday break to prepare for the major series beginning in the coming days.
Snowboard, Freestyle, Freeski
It was full steam ahead for the freestyle skiers and snowboarders, who had a full line-up across the disciplines.
The last event of the pre-Holiday break was staged in Fort Romeu (FRA) with a freeski slopestyle competition on 23rd December. 16 year-old La Plagne native Tess Ledeux (FRA) wowed the home crowd and continued to be a force in the freeski world, picking up a convincing victory. Oscar Wester (SWE) was the men’s winner, thanks to clean, well-executed runs.
On the other side of the globe, Jiayu Liu (CHN) and Ayumu Hirano (JPN) lived up to all expectations as early season favourites winning the first ever Snowboard halfpipe World Cup staged at Secret Garden (CHN) which will be one of the host venues for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. It was an amazing show of Japanese dominance as the nation took the top four spots in the men’s competition, while taking three of the top five places in the ladies’ competition.
Meanwhile in Taiwoo (CHN) at the future Beijing 2022 moguls venue, Mikael Kingsbury was once again the man to beat as he was the winner of both competition days. The Canadian looks to be unstoppable this season as he has dominated nearly every event. In the ladies’ competitions, it was Jaelin Kauf (USA) and Yulia Galysheva (KAZ) splitting the victory honours in the two days of action.
The Audi FIS Ski Cross tour was in Innichen (ITA) for two races before the break. Marc Bischofberger (SUI) won both competitions surprising the men’s field in the Italian resort. On the ladies’ side, German Heidi Zacher finally grabbed top spot on the podium on the first day of action after coming close all season. The second day, Swede Sandra Naeslund was the winner, which was enough to lift her to the December Cross Alps Tour title, together with Bischofberger winning the men’s title.
The Snowboard Cross tour was also in Italy before the holidays, as Cervina was a very good host to its national team athletes with Michela Moioli (ITA) and Omar Visintin (ITA) earning home soil wins. The French team also had a strong performance, earning three podium places among the six up for grabs.