The 2020/21 FIS Snowboard World Cup season is finally ready to get underway on Saturday, 12 December, when the world’s finest carvers will take to the slopes of Cortina d Ampezzo (ITA) for parallel giant slalom action at the future home of competition for the Milan/Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games. Cortina will be the first stop for an alpine SB season that is currently slated to see 11 competitions across the parallel giant slalom, parallel slalom, and parallel team events.
After Cortina, the alpine SB tour will stay in Italy, making the quick drive over to Carezza for another PGS race on 17 December before we break for the holidays. After that we kick 2021 off in Scoul (SUI) with another PGS race on 9 January, and then move onto Russia for three competitions - first with PSL action in Moscow on 30 January, then in Bannoye for PSL and PRT competitions from 6-7 February. Following that, we return to PyeongChang (KOR) for a pair of PGS races on 13 and 14 February, then hit Rogla (SLO) for one PGS race on 6 March, before we finish the season in Germany, where Berchtesgaden will return to the World Cup calendar for the first time since 2004, for PSL and PRT competitions taking place from 20-21 March.
As with all FIS World Cup events this season, stringent testing and safety protocols will be in place throughout the winter as we work to successfully navigate the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic. And, despite the lack of fans on site to watch the action go down live, we’re confident that the action we’ll be able to bring through TV broadcasts, livestream, and social media will be just as thrilling as in any FIS Snowboard campaign in years past, if not more so.
Takeaways from 2019/20
The big winners in the 2019/20 FIS Snowboard alpine World Cup season were Ramona Theresia Hofmeister (GER) and Roland Fischnaller (ITA), who earned the respective women’s and men’s alpine SB overall crystal globes by banking over 2000 points more than their closest competitors. Hofmeister’s season was one for the ages, with eight victories and 10 total podiums in 12 events (including team competitions), while the veteran Fischnaller had three wins and five total podiums in his 10 races (all individual). Along with their overall globes, both Hofmeister and Fischnaller claimed the PGS crystal globes, while finishing second overall in PSL; which is to say, both athletes had hugely impressive, consistent and dominant seasons in 2019/20.
Tops on the PSL side of things last season were Julie Zogg (SUI) and Andreas Prommegger (AUT), with two-time reigning PSL world champion Zogg taking two wins and third-place finish in the season’s three events, while Prommegger had two wins and a 10th place finish to lead the way for the men.
The Germans saw great seasons for a number of athletes, with Selina Joerg finishing second overall in PGS and third in PSL for the women, Stefan Baumeister finishing in third on the PSL rankings, and Baumeister and Hofmeister winning both parallel team competitions of the season. Also strong was the rest of the Italian men’s team behind Fischnaller, with five riders in the PGS top-10 and three in the top-6 for PSL. Russia’s Dmitry Loginov and Andrey Sobolev finished third and fourth on the overall standings on the men’s side, while Austria saw strong seasons from Benjamin Karl and Daniela Ulbing to go along with the PSL globe for Prommegger.
What to look out for in 2020/21:
24 year-old Hofmeister has been on rapid rise up the ranks since she became a World Cup regular in 2015/16, while the 40 year-old Fischnaller is entering his 20th season of World Cup action and has sat amongst the upper echelon of riders for over a decade now, and while their both at different points in their careers, both now head into 2020/21 with targets on their backs. The type of campaigns that Hofmeister and Fischnaller enjoyed in last season have resulted in some big expectations this season, and how the two riders handle these expectations may dictate whether one or both have them has what it takes for repeats in the months ahead.
And, while the weight of expectations may not be so heavy for PSL globe winners Zogg and Prommegger, they’ll be there nonetheless. However, with Zogg a two-time defending world champ and Prommegger a 40 year-old veteran like Fischnaller, a fall-off for either rider this season seems unlikely.
Two of the most interesting stories to follow this season will come on the women’s side of things: firstly, with the un-retirement of Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medallist Julia Dujmovits; and secondly in the level of participation we’ll see from two-sport superwoman Ester Ledecka (CZE). For 33 year-old Dujmovits it’s been over two years since she last saw World Cup competition, while Ledecka only competed in two FIS Snowboard World Cup competitions last season as she focused her attentions on the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup. Both riders could make a big difference on the women’s side of things this season.