On the Snow: Great Test Events in PyeongChang

From 3rd-5th February 2017, the FIS Cross-Country and Nordic Combined World Cups presented by Viessmann took centre stage in PyeongChang (KOR), which served as official test events for the Olympic Winter Games 2018.

At the Alpensia Centre, Cross-Country skiers were in action with sprint and skiathlon competitions. It was the first time that Korea hosted World Cup races in Cross-Country Skiing and these were the first events in Asia since the 2007 World Championships in Sapporo (JPN).

In the sprint, Gleb Retivykh (RUS) and Anamarija Lampic (SLO) recorded their first World Cup victories in the men’s and ladies’ classic sprints.

Petr Sedov (RUS) cruised to his first ever World Cup win in the skiathlon, while in the ladies’ event, Poland’s super star Justyna Kowalczyk won her landmark 50th FIS World Cup competition.

The team sprints were won by the Team Sweden I ladies (Elin Mohlin, Maria Nordstroem) and Team Russia I (Andrey Parfenov, Gleb Retivykh) on the men’s side.

Meanwhile, the Nordic Combined athletes were in action with two Gundersen competitions on the large and normal hills. Johannes Rydzek (GER) came out victorious in both competitions and now sits atop the World Cup leader board in front of his teammate Eric Frenzel.

Overall, the athletes and teams were happy with the facility, course conditions and organisation of the events.

“We were very pleased with the competitions in PyeongChang. It was an important and successful test for the Organising Committee POCOG, volunteers, athletes and FIS staff. The redesigned competition courses and stadium proved to be close to Olympic Games level. We gathered useful experience and will continue to closely cooperate with the Organisers POCOG to ensure that in one year’s time everything will be 100% set for the Olympic Winter Games,” stated FIS Cross-Country Race Director Pierre Mignerey.

FIS Nordic Combined Race Director Lasse Ottesen added: “We have an excellent venue at Alpensia and the athletes and coaches were very satisfied. This was an important chance for everyone to preview the jumping hill and the course and see what it will be like during the Olympic Games next year. Thumbs up to the Organisers who worked very hard. They did a fantastic job!”

Ski Jumping

In the ladies’ Ski Jumping World Cup presented by Viessmann in Hinzenbach (AUT), Japan’s superstar Sara Takanashi took her 51st and 52nd World Cup victories as she topped the podium in both individual competitions. She was joined twice on the podium by reigning Olympic Champion Carina Vogt (GER) who landed in second and third places. Vogt’s teammate Katarina Althaus and Maren Lundby (NOR) rounded out the podiums.

Meanwhile, the men were in action with ski flying events in Oberstdorf (GER) where Austria’s Stefan Kraft flew to double victory. He was joined on the podium by local hero Andreas Wellinger (GER) who jumped to second place in both competitions. World Cup leader Kamil Stoch (POL) and Jurij Tepes (SLO) rounded out the podium. On the second competition day, strong winds led to the cancellation of the final round.

Freestyle Skiing

In Freestyle Skiing, USA hosted halfpipe and slopestyle events in Mammoth Mountain, while the best aerials and moguls skiers battled for victory in Deer Valley Resort. The Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup stopped in Germany for back-to-back competitions in Feldberg.

The halfpipe in Mammoth Mountain was affected by strong winds that made it impossible to run the show. After several postponements, leading to the eventual cancellation of the halfpipe finals, top qualifiers Marie Martinod (FRA) and Torin Yater-Wallace (USA) were awarded with the wins.

US freeski team athlete Maggie Voisin claimed victory in the season's third slopestyle World Cup competition. On the men’s side, the pattern of week-long challenging weather conditions continued and high winds combined with driving snow caused the cancellation of the event.

Meanwhile, in Deer Valley on Thursday, U.S. young gun Morgan Schild took the second World Cup win of her career in the single moguls event and World Cup leader Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) claimed the win on the men’s side.

Lydia Lassila (AUS) and Qi Guangpu (CHN) battled through the heavy snow and rose above their competitors to take aerials victories on Friday. It was Lassila’s second World Cup event since her bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and the birth of her second child.

The three-day event came to a close with an action-packed dual moguls competition on Saturday, where World Cup leaders Britt Cox (AUS) and Mikael Kingsbury once again validated their claims to the top with impressive wins. Kingsbury claimed his 58th FIS World Cup podium and surpassed French legend Edgar Grospiron for the most men’s World Cup podiums of all time.

In Feldberg, the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup races were cut short due to winter storms and heavy snow. On Saturday, Germany’s Heidi Zacher was awarded top spot on the ladies’ side and World Cup leader Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) took the victory for the men after the first the first round of action of the men and the preliminary heats for the ladies. 

On Sunday, continued winds and heavy snow forced the cancellation of the ladies’ event, while on the men’s side, the preliminary heats were completed giving a result and World Cup points. Chapuis was the winner for the second competition in a row, with Filip Flisar (SLO) in second, and Alex Fiva (SUI) in third.

Snowboard

Bansko (BUL) celebrated a successful debut as host of the Alpine Snowboard and Snowboard Cross World Cup tours. The two parallel giant slalom events were won by Patrizia Kummer (SUI) and local hero Radoslav Yankov. Alena Zavarzina (RUS) and Sylvain Dufour (FRA) raced to victory on the second competition day.

Meanwhile, Belle Brockhoff (AUS) and Alessandro Haemmerle (AUT) triumphed in the snowboard cross sprint event.

On the other side of the world in Mammoth Mountain (USA), the world’s best riders joined the freeskiers for halfpipe and slopestyle competitions. In slopestyle, the home nation swept the podium in both, the ladies’ and men’s competition with Olympic Champion Jamie Anderson and Redmond Gerard topping the podium respectively. American snowboarders were dominant in the halfpipe as well, sweeping the men’s podium and taking two of the top three spots for the ladies. Superstar Shaun White won the men’s competition, while Kelly Clark took the win for the ladies.