The FIS World Cup series biggest season highlights, Ski Jumping’s iconic Four Hills Tournament and Cross-Country’s Tour de Ski, both got underway last week.
The Four Hills Tournament, celebrating its 65th edition this year, already has half of its competitions in the books and as many predicted, it is truly a wide-open field of contenders this year. On 30th December 2016 in front of a packed stadium in Oberstdorf (GER), Stefan Kraft (AUT) topped the standings in a strong day for the Austrians, who also placed Michael Hayboeck on the podium in third place, just behind Kamil Stoch (POL). But on New Year’s day, the deck was shuffled as Norwegian Daniel Andre Tande took bragging rights in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER). Stoch and Kraft rounded out the podium, staying in strong contention for the coveted overall title. At press time, the third competition in Innsbruck (AUT) was just about to begin.
The FIS Cross-Country World Cup Tour de Ski also got underway in its 11th edition with two stages in Val Mustair (SUI) and two stages in Oberstdorf (GER). On the men’s side Sergey Ustiugov (RUS) won all four stages, a sprint, a 10 km classic, a skiathlon and a 15 km pursuit and currently holds the advantage over last year’s winner Norwegian, Martin Johnrud Sundby. Meanwhile on the ladies’ side, Stina Nilsson (SWE) took the lead after the skiathlon and 10 km pursuit in Oberstdorf. Nilsson now has three stage wins under her belt including the opening sprint, the skiathlon and the pursuit.
The men’s and ladies’ Audi FIS Ski World Cups wrapped up their post-Christmas visits to Santa Caterina (ITA) and Semmering (AUT) on 30th December 2016.
Mikaela Shiffrin completed the amazing sweep in Semmering after claiming the victory in the slalom race to add to her two giant slalom victories, further proof that she has been in a league of her own in this season’s technical races. In the ladies’ slalom in Zagreb (CRO) Shiffrin’s streak came to an end as she had a DNF, allowing Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova to take her first victory of the season.
On the men’s side, Alexis Pinturault (FRA) took the first alpine combined race of the season. Tech ace Marcel Hirscher (AUT) and speed star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) rounded out the well-balanced top three. The men will race the night slalom in Zagreb tomorrow, 5th January 2017.