Both the men’s and ladies’ were at classic stops on the Audi FIS Ski World Cup tours with the men facing the legendary Kitzbühel Streif, while the ladies’ were in the picturesque Dolomites for a speed weekend in Cortina.
24 year-old German Thomas Dressen certainly saved a memorable moment to claim his first World Cup victory as he stunned the field, coming down with bib 19 to claim the victory ahead of Beat Feuz (SUI) by 0.20 seconds. Austrian Hannes Reichelt finished in third place 0.41 seconds off the winning pace.
In Friday’s super-G, it was a Norwegian double with Aksel Lund Svindal looking right at home on the top step of the podium topping his teammate Kjetil Jansrud by a half second.
Sunday’s slalom was a thriller as the season-long duel between Marcel Hirscher (AUT) and Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) completed another chapter. This time, the young Norwegian would not be denied as he built a 1,05 second advantage over the dominant Hirscher. It proved to be too much to overcome even for the near-perfect Hirscher, as Kristoffersen at last topped the slalom ranking this season. Daniel Yule (SUI) earned his first career podium in third place.
At the famous night race in Schladming (AUT) on Tuesday night, there was a lot to celebrate as Marcel Hirscher won his 54th career World Cup and in so doing tied Herman Maier (AUT) for second most wins all-time for men.
The podium was almost a repeat of Kitzbuehel as Kristoffersen and Yule finished second and third, respectively.
The ladies meanwhile in Cortina competed in three speed races with three completely different podiums, as the downhill and super-G races feature a wide open field this season. Sophia Goggia (ITA) took the first downhill win on home turf Friday, dispatching American’ Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin to second and third place, respectively.
On Saturday, it was a another story as Goggia crashed out, with Vonn climbing to the top spot of the podium in the second downhill of the weekend. Vonn was in a league of her own as she beat her closest competitor Tina Weirather (LIE) by nearly a second.
Sunday’s super-G was Lara Gut’s day to shine. She finally earned her first victory after suffering a knee injury at last season’s World Championships, narrowly edging Italian Johanna Schnarf by 0.14 seconds.
Ladies’ Ski Jumping
There’s one name on the tips of everyone’s tongues in the Ladies’ Ski Jumping World Cup presented by Viessmann: Maren Lundby. The young Norwegian flew to her fifth straight victory on Sunday, picking up both individual victories in Zao (JPN). She now holds a commanding lead in the overall World Cup with 760 points. Second is Katharina Althaus with 500 points ahead of Sara Takanashi with 470.
The home fans could celebrate one victory during the full weekend, as Japan took an emphatic win in the team event on Saturday.
Stina Nilsson (SWE) and Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo (NOR) added to their overall FIS Cross-Country World Cup presented by Viessmann sprint leads with victories in Planica (SLO). Both athletes dominated their classic sprint finals on a course featuring long gradual climbs that brought the strong classic technique skiers to the front. It was a day for Norway and Sweden with athletes from both countries filling all six podium places.
Finland's Krista Parmakoski finally earned her long-awaited win with a victory in the 10 km classic on Sunday. Parmakoski trailed Charlotte Kalla (SWE) for most of the race, but at the finish line she had a 3.6 second margin of victory. Third place went to overall World Cup leader Heidi Weng (NOR).
On the men’s side, Alexey Poltoranin (KAZ) won his second 15 km classic competition of the season and seventh career victory in the event. With his win, he has tied Sweden’s legend Gunde Svan for the most wins in the 15 km classic competition.
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup leader Jan Schmid (NOR) extended his overall lead with a victory in the individual Gundersen in Chaux Neuve (FRA). It was his fourth victory of the season and the second back-to-back following his win in Val di Fiemme (ITA) last weekend. Schmid skied a strong race, mostly together with jumping leader Akito Watabe, but beat the Japanese by 1.4 seconds in the end. Ilkka Herola came through with a podium result for the Finnish team, ending his race in third place after beating Austria’s Lukas Klapfer in a finish line sprint by 0.3 seconds.
In Sunday’s team event, Norway claimed the victory after near-flawless performances on the jumping hill and cross-country track lead to record a clear win by 13.1 seconds. Team Germany bounced back from a sub-par jumping performance and claimed second place. The Finnish team returned to a team event podium after an eleven years absence in third (+20.5).
Starting shot for ladies’ Nordic Combined Continental Cup
Meanwhile, inaugural ladies’ Continental Cup events were held in Rena (NOR) last weekend, marking another big step in the development of Nordic Combined.
14 ladies from seven nations competed in the event held together with the men’s Continental Cup.
On the first day, Stefaniya Nadymova (RUS) wrestled victory ahead of Ayane Miyazaki (JPN) in a finish line sprint, while on the second day the Japanese turned the tables on the Russian. Third on both days was Jenny Nowak (GER).
“We are very pleased with the first edition of the ladies’ Continental Cup”, COC Coordinator Toni Guggemoos concluded. “We have seen strong jumping and cross-country performances and especially the finishes were really exciting.”
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Freestyle Skiing, Freeski and Snowboard
It was a monster weekend of 24 FIS World Cup events for this group of athletes with 12 Snowboard and 12 Freestyle and Freeski events.
The packed week kicked off in Laax (SUI) with snowboard slopestyle and halfpipe competitions scheduled. Unfortunately, stormy weather all across central Europe wreaked havoc with the schedule, allowing only the halfpipe to be contested. Jiayu Liu (CHN) and Iouri Podladtchikov (SUI) claimed the victories. Also awarded were the crystal globes for the best overall halfpipe riders of the season. The honours went to Chloe Kim (USA) and Yuto Totsuka (JPN), whose second place finish in Laax lifted him to the season title.
In Rogla (SLO), the alpine snowboarders were in action for two parallel giant slalom competitions. Ester Ledecka (CZE) and Andreas Prommegger (AUT) claimed victories in the first of the two events. For the Czech superstar it was four out of four in the PGS World Cup, but it was the season's first win in an individual event for the two-time World Champion from Austria. Sunday’s races saw two new faces on top of the podium as Ledecka’s winning streak was snapped when Ramona Theresia Hofmeister (GER) earned the victory. On the men’s side it was another Austrian, Benjamin Karl taking the win.
Eva Samkova (CZE) and Omar Visintin (ITA) won the first ever FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup races in Turkey, staged in Erzurum part of the Ejder 3200 resort. The result was a big comeback for Samkova on the eve of the Olympics. The defending Olympic Champion injured her shoulder in December, but showed she is ready for the Games next month. For Visintin, it was his second consecutive victory.
In the SBX Team Event, reigning World Champions, France, earned back-to-back World Cup Team Event victories in dominant fashion in the ladies’ final. The podium was rounded out by the Czech Republic and Canada. In the men’s team event, Italy earned its second victory of the weekend followed by Austria and USA.
The Freestyle Cross counterparts were also in action with the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup taking place in Nakiska (CAN). The storyline on the ladies’ side remained largely unchanged as Sandra Naeslund (SWE) earned her sixth victory of the season. Meanwhile, the men welcomed a first-time World Cup winner with German Paul Eckert racing to his maiden victory on the circuit.
Also in Canada the moguls World Cup tour visited Quebec’s Tremblant resort. Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) thrilled the crowd in her home province with her first victory of the season. But the home crowd’s elation soon turned to surprise as Ikuma Horishima (JPN) shocked the moguls World Cup tour minutes later by ending Mikael Kingsbury’s 13 win streak with an incredible performance.
Due south from their moguls counterparts, the aerials World Cup was in Lake Placid (USA). In the first of the back-to-back competitions. Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila (AUS) showed she is still a force with a hard-fought win. Meanwhile, Jia Zongyang (CHN) recaptured the World Cup leader’s bib and his status as potential Olympic gold medal favourite with his third win of the season. On Saturday, Xu Mengtao (CHN) and Maxim Burov (RUS) earned big victories under the lights on their way to both athletes securing the 2017/18 FIS Freestyle World Cup aerials crystal globes.
Also in America, the world’s best freekiers were in action with their last chance to earn a ticket to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in slopestyle and halfpipe. Weather was also challenging at Mammoth Mountain, causing a shuffling schedule. In Saturday’s halfpipe finals, U.S. athletes swept both the ladies’ and men’s podiums on home soil with Brita Sigourney and Kyle Smaine taking big victories in front of the home crowd. In Sunday’s slopestyle event Tiril Sjaastad Christiansen (NOR) and Teal Harle (CAN) claimed victories in the slopestyle World Cup competition.