After a hard-fought PGS event that set the tone for 2021 on the FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup this past Saturday in Scuol, we’re right back to action this Tuesday and Wednesday with the first parallel slalom competition of the season, as well as the first parallel slalom mixed team event, which are set to go down at the iconic venue in Bad Gastein (AUT).
Initially the 21st edition of the FIS Snowboard World Cup event in Bad Gastein had been cancelled at the end of November due to regional circumstance of the covid-19 pandemic. However, the good news came just a couple of weeks later, after the organising committee along with the Austrian Ski Federation decided that conditions were becoming favourable to host the parallel slalom and parallel slalom team events on the original dates, January 12-13, 2021.
So this week the World Cup tour is back in town for a pair of exciting competitions at the longest-running event of any of the entire FIS Snowboard World Cup. And once again this year we can expect that the Austrian stop on tour will be one of the highlights events of the 2020/21 season.
Tuesday’s competition under the lights will be the season’s first PSL race, and while we’ve already had a pretty good taste of where the riders recent form is with three parallel giant slalom competitions so far in the campaign. However, we know that the tighter turns suit some riders better than others. It will be interesting to see if some of the PSL specialists can step and exert their will this week, and there’s a couple riders who should be on everyone’s radar when looking for favourites for the win in Bad Gastein.
Starting on the women’s side obviously keep an eye on the current PGS World Cup leader Ramona Theresia Hofmeister (GER), who finished in top-3 in each competition she started this season. Not just a PGS threat, when you look back to the 2019/20 season, you’ll see that Hofmeister was exceptional in every competition she would enter and in fact the won the previous competition in Bad Gastein and also wrapped up last season in second place in final PSL standing.
Going further down the starting list there is Julie Zogg (SUI), a true parallel slalom specialist, who wrapped up the 2019/20 World Cup season with her second consecutive PSL crystal globe after winning two events in Bannoye (RUS) and Piancavallo (ITA), and rounding out the podium in third place here in Bad Gastein.
Zogg did have some problems to break into top-3 at the Italian stops in Cortina and Carezza in December, but she did step her game up this past weekend on home turf in Scuol and managed to finish in third place. And while Zogg was obviously very pleased to start 2021 on a high, she was clearly already looking forward to getting back to PSL competition.
Besides Hofmeister and Zogg, also watch out for Selina Joerg (GER), Ladina Jenny (SUI), Claudia Riegler (AUT) as well as Sofia Nadyrshina, who is fresh off a phenomenal maiden World Cup victory in Scuol this past weekend.
Switching over to the men’s side of things let’s start with the Austrian fans’ favourite Benny Karl and Andreas Prommegger, with the first one starting the competition in Bad Gastein as the current PGS World Cup leader, and with the second one entering the event as the reigning PSL World Cup champion. Karl won the competition in Bad Gastein back in 2011, while Prommegger topped the podium two years later in 2013 and that was the last time that Austria saw its athletes triumph in the men’s event. However, with both veterans showing an excellent form lately, we wouldn’t be surprise to see both of them on the podium this week.
Then we have the Italian Snowboard Team that had as many as five athletes in top-10 of last season’s final PSL ranking, and four within top-6. The Italian fans watching Tuesday’s competition in front of their screen will have plenty of reason to get excited with Rolland Fischnaller, Daniele Bagozza, Maurizio Bormolini, Aaron March, Mirko Felicetti and Edwin Coratti all ready to showcase their best carving skills on Tuesday and Wednesday. Especially keep an eye on Bagozza and Bormolini as they might be looking to repeat their 1-2 punch from last year.
Also let’s not forget about Stefan Baumeister (GER), who finished in third place here in Bad Gastein in 2019/20, the Swiss duo of Dario Caviezel and Nevin Galmarini, the Polish squad with Oskar Kwiatkowski and Michal Nowaczyk, and finally the entire Russian team led by Dmitry Loginov, Andrey Sobolev and the recent winner from Scuol - Igor Sluev.
Once the individual competition wrap up on Tuesday night, Wednesday will bring the first Parallel Slalom Mixed Team event of the season. And while it’s yet to see how nations will set up their teams ahead of the first race in 2020/21, it’s hard not to put the German Team among strong candidates for victory.
The German duo of Hofmeister and Baumeister won both team events that were held in a shortened 2019/20 World Cup campaign and if they are only able to bring back the level of performance from last season, it might be extremely difficult to stop them from shining again on Wednesday. Still they will have a strong competition with teams from Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Russia and host nation Austria, doing their best to upset the favourites.
Tuesday’s individual PSL competition will kick off at 10:00 CET with the qualification rounds, with finals coming up under the lights later in the evening, beginning at 18:40. Wednesday’s PSL Mixed Team competition will go down with final beginning at 13:00.