With the start of the New Year came also the beginning of the several season highlights on the FIS World Cup calendars.
Both the men and ladies’ kicked off the New Year on 1st January with the first-ever Audi FIS Ski World Cup city event staged in Oslo (NOR). Under foggy conditions, it was a 1-2 finish for Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) and Wendy Holdener (SUI) in a closely contested final. Swiss rookie Melanie Meillard also picked up her first career podium in the small final. On the men’s side Andre Myhrer (SWE) proved his technical strength, cruising to the win in the final against Michael Matt (AUT) after a shaky start in the early rounds with the winner of the Stockholm 2017 parallel race Linus Strasser (GER) in third position.
Before the New Year, both the men’s and ladies’ Audi FIS Ski World Cup tours were in action with the men in Bormio (ITA) and the ladies’ in Lienz (AUT).
In Bormio, it was a perfect end to 2017 for the Italian team as Dominik Paris earned the downhill victory ahead of Norwegian duo Kjetil Jansrud and Aksel Lund Svindal. The following day, Alexis Pinturault (FRA) lived up to his role as the favourite in the Alpine Combined, topping Italian Peter Fill (ITA) by 0.42 seconds.
Meanwhile Mikaela Shiffrin continued her winning ways in the night slalom in Lienz (AUT), beating Switzerland’s top star this season, Wendy Holdener by nearly one second. The following day, Shiffrin had to settle for third place in the exciting giant slalom, which saw surprise winner Federica Brignone (ITA) head the standings ahead of German Viktoria Rebensburg by a slim 0.04 margin.
It was a dream start for Kamil Stoch at the 66th edition of the Four Hills Tournament as the Pole picked up victories in both Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (both GER) in front of sold out crowds. But Stoch can’t rest easy with German Richard Freitag on his heels. Freitag finished second in the two competitions, setting up a thrilling final two events in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen (both AUT).
The 12th edition of the Tour de Ski presented by Viessmann also started on 30th December with three stages in Lenzerheide (SUI) and the Swiss team took full advantage of the home course, picking up a surprising three victories in the six races.
Team Switzerland’s success started with Laurien Van der Graff earning the first World Cup victory of her career in the sprint on Friday ahead of American Sophie Caldwell. On the men’s side it was Sergey Ustinov (RUS) holding off Federico Pellgrino (ITA) in sprint action.
The next two days were the Dario Cologna show, as the Swiss star showed no signs of being bothered by nagging injuries as he picked up victories in the 15 km classic on Saturday and the 15 km freestyle pursuit on Sunday giving him the overall lead in the Tour standings.
On the ladies’ side, Norwegian Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg put on a show of her own as she also won both the Saturday 10 km classic and Sunday’s 10 km freestyle pursuit. But Oestberg’s overall lead in the Tour is closely contested as her teammate Heidi Weng is close behind after taking second place in both 10 km races.