Scuol (SUI) - With just three competitions at two venues left on the season, the 2018/19 FIS Snowboard alpine World Cup enters the homestretch at the first of those two venues this weekend in Scuol (SUI), where the final parallel giant slalom event of the season will take to the Swiss Alps resort with qualifications and finals on Saturday, March 9.
Known as the “Home of Hardbooters” and the local resort of reigning PyeongChang 2018 Olympic gold medallist and 2017/18 parallel overall crystal globe winner Nevin Galmarini, Scuol’s first turn as the host of World Cup competition came in the form of a highly successful competition just last season, where Galmarini took third place on the day. And though the resort’s favourite son won’t be competing on home soil this season as he recovers from injury, the venue is nonetheless primed and ready to host another excellent event.
The best ladies and men of carving are riding high after a series of incredible competitions in Asia, firstly at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games venue in Bokwang Phoenix Park (KOR), and then at the future Beijing 2022 Olympic venue in Secret Garden (CHN), with both locales providing perfect pistes and some of the most perfect racing of the season.
After those competitions the battle at the top of the ladies’ parallel World Cup leaderboard has become a truly epic one, with the top four athletes - lead by Ester Ledacka (CZE) - separated by just 340 points, setting us up for a thrilling finish to the season.
However, when we isolate the PGS standings alone, Ledecka finds herself with a clear path to her second consecutive and third career PGS crystal globe, with her 4,200 points putting her out of reach of of Germany’s Selina Jeorg, who holds 3,129.70.
With podiums in five of five PGS World Cup competitions, as well as the win at last season’s Scuol race, Ledecka is the favourite once again this weekend. That being said, in both the second PyeongChang competition and the Secret Garden event leading up to Scuol she was held from the top step on the podium, although perhaps those were just minor missteps late in a season in which she has split her time between the FIS Snowboard and FIS Alpine Ski World Cup tours.
The likes of Joerg and her teammates Ramon Hofmeister and Cheyenne Loch are still very much ones to watch out for on Saturday, as they are all part of a German squad that has put an athlete on every ladies’ PGS podium save for one this season, while parallel second-overall Sabine Schoeffman (AUT), Nadya Ochner (ITA), and Switzerland’s own Julie Zogg should be in the mix as well.
The fight at the top of the men’s parallel overall World Cup standings is somehow even closer than that of the ladies, with less than 1,000 points separating World Cup leader Roland Fischnaller (ITA) from sixth-overall rider Dmitry Loginov (RUS).
On the PGS-specific rankings it’s going to be a battle down to the wire to see who will walk away with the crystal globe tomorrow, as Austria’s Andreas Prommegger has but a narrow lead on top spot, with his 3,070 points putting him just 136 clear of second-ranked Tim Mastnak’s (SLO) 2,936 points. The above-mentioned Fischnaller isn’t far back of Prommagger either, sitting third on the PGS World Cup leaderboard with 2,690 points. Edwin Coratti (ITA) and Benjamin Karl (AUT), sitting in fourth and fifth respectively, are also both mathematically still in the hunt for this season’s PGS globe.
Though Prommegger leads the PGS men he’s gotten to where he has in quietly consistent style, earning just two podiums and a handful of other top 10 results so far in 2018/19.
In reality, though, nobody on the men’s side has been able to assert themselves head-and-shoulders above the rest so far this season, as 15 different athletes have earned PGS podiums so far this season, with only Prommegger, Benny Karl (AUT), and Tim Mastnak (SLO) making their way into the top three more than once.
Of those three, Mastnak is definitely the one to watch out for on Saturday, as he comes into Scuol as the reigning winner from last season, and hot on the heels of claiming the victory at Secret Garden two weeks ago.
Competition at Scuol gets underway on Saturday with qualification heats at 9:30 CET, with the top 32 men and 32 ladies then dropping in for finals at 13:30.