The Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup has now launched out of the starting gates, following a delayed start to the season due to the cancellation of events in Val Thorens (FRA) and Montafon (AUT).
The competition in Arosa (SUI) on Monday was the starting shot of the 2018 Audi FIS Cross Alps Tour and Audi FIS World Cup season, which consists of three competitions this winter. Two back-to-back events follow in Innichen/San Candido (ITA).
Tour-specific rules and formats
The Cross Alps Tour features several Tour-specific rules and formats, a more in-depth explanation of which can be found HERE. Of note is that the Tour's “Wild card” berth will ensure a spot in the finals for the top eight men and top four ladies according to the rankings before each competition.
The 2017 Cross Alps Tour saw Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and Marc Bischofberger (SUI) take the respective ladies’ and men’s Tour titles, with both athletes building off those triumphs to eventually claim the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup 2017/18 crystal globes.
Explosive opening in Arosa (SUI)
The first event of the Audi FIS World Cup Tour opened in storybook fashion on Monday, as the sprint nighttime competition in Arosa (SUI) saw Swiss stars Fanny Smith and Jonas Lenherr claim the season’s first victories in front of their home crowd.
In the ladies final, Marielle Thompson (CAN) jumped out to an early lead, only to be passed by both Sandra Naeslund (SWE) and Smith, with Naeslund then opening a small gap on Smith which she would hold onto through the bottom to-thirds of the course and, seemingly, across the line. Upon review, the high-speed finish line camera revealed that Smith had caught and out-reached Naeslund by a mere finger-length, giving the 26-year-old her 14th career World Cup victory, and her third in Arosa.
On the men’s side, Sweden’s Victor Oehling Norberg was out of the gate the fastest, though that lead would be short lived as Lenherr, on the inside line, dove through the first turn ahead of Oehling Norberg to head the field. Lenherr and Oehling Norberg, along with Lenherr’s teammate Alex Fiva and Bastian Midol of France, all entered Arosa’s negative turn essentially sharing one pair of skis, with a crash seemingly inevitable. Out of the chaos Lenherr was able to stretch the lead out a little more and maintain it through the finish line for his third career victory.
Finals in Innichen/San Candido (ITA)
From Arosa, the shortened 2018 edition of the Cross Alps Tour moves to Innichen/San Candido (ITA) for back-to-back competitions at what is the longest-running stop on the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup - now entering its 10thyear. Competition in Innichen are scheduled on December 21st and 22nd.