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Season preview: 2019/20 FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup
PSL action in Cortina D'Ampezzo (ITA) ยฉ Miha Matavz/FIS Snowboard

The hotly-anticipated 2019/20 FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup season is set to get underway from December 7-8 at the newly-added stop in Bannoye (RUS), where PGS action will open a jam-packed season that will see a total of 17 competitions in the three alpine SB events (parallel slalom, parallel giant slalom, and mixed team) taking place at 12 venues in eight different countries across three continents. This season is one of the once-every-three-years occurrences with no world championships or Olympic Winter Games to look forward to, meaning each World Cup of the winter takes on a little extra importance as the best carvers in the world chase the season’s biggest prizes - the PSL, PGS, and PRT crystal globes. 

VENUES (click for more info):

Bannoye (RUS), PGS & PSL, Dec 7-8, 2019 - The first of three new venues added to this season’s alpine SB World Cup tour, Bannoye is a small but well-loved resort located in the southern Ural Mountains on the shores of Lake Bannoye, some 1,600kms east of Moscow. With Russia’s stacked racing team - including last year’s overall crystal globe winner Andrey Sobolev (more on him later) and Utah 2019 double world champion Dmitry Loginov - on hand to represent the host nation, this should be an exciting event to open the season.

Cortina D’Ampezzo (ITA), PGS, Dec 14, 2019 - The first of three Italian venues on the circuit in 2019/20, Cortina D’Ampezzo is one that all riders will have circled on their calendars after the Milan-Cortina bid was awarded the right to hold the 2026 Olympic Winter Games. With staggering vistas all around, four previous season of holding an exceptional level of competition, and the extra fun that goes along with nighttime racing, the Cortina race promises to once again be nothing short of excellent.

Carezza (ITA), PGS, Dec 19, 2019 -  Entering it’s ninth season as a World Cup venue, Carezza continues to deliver the goods year in, and year out, with its perfectly-pitched course and location in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Dolomite mountains producing the ideal racing venue. And with Italy’s own Nadia Ochner claiming her first career victory at the resort last season, and veteran Roland Fischnaller claiming victory at the very first Carezza World Cup race back in 2011/12, expect a little bit of good fortune to carry over for the strong Italian team again this season.

Lackenhof (AUT), PSL & PRT, Jan 5-6, 2020 - The first FIS Snowboard competitions of the new decade will take place in Austria, where Lackenhof resort is set to host PSL and PSL mixed team competition from January 5-6. Lackenhof’s debut on the World Cup circuit came in 2017/18 and the results did not disappoint the local crowd, with two thrilling days of racing resulting in four podiums for the Austrian team - including first and second in the mixed team competition. 

Scuol (SUI), PGS, Jan 11, 2020 - After serving as the final PGS stop of the 2018/19 campaign, Scuol has moved to mid-season for this season and the long, steep pitch in the Swiss Engadin region will offer the athletes of the FIS Snowboard Alpine tour a tough early-2020 challenge. This will be the third edition of the Scuol PGS World Cup, and so far the Russians lead the way with four podiums at the venue - including three out of six taken last year.

Bad Gastein (AUT), PSL & PRT, Jan 14-15, 2020 - The longest-running competition of any on the entire FIS Snowboard World Cup, Austria’s Bad Gastein has hosted one of the season’s highlight competitions nearly every season since 2000/01. The list of athletes who have stood on the podium is an absolute who’s-who of alpine snowboarding, from legends like the late Karine Ruby and her countryman Mathieu Bozzetto of France, to today’s masters like Ester Ledecka (CZE) and Benny Karl (AUT), to legends of the future like Dmitry Loginov (RUS) and Daniella Ulbing (AUT). The story of Bad Gastein continues to be written, with last season’s win on home soil by the then 45-year-old Claudia Reigler certainly one of its most memorable chapters. 

Rogla (SLO), PGS, Jan 18, 2020 - After the powerhouse Austrian, Russian, and French teams, no other nation has more world championships gold medals than the Slovenians since 2003, when the great Dejan Kosir took the PGS title in Kreischberg (AUT). With Tim Mastnak’s PGS crystal globe win last season, Slovenia’s rich alpine SB history keeps growing, and at Rogla the nation’s enthusiasm for the sport will be on full display once again when the FIS Snowboard World Cup stops in for the eighth-straight season.

Piancavallo (ITA), PSL & PRT, Jan 25-26, 2019 - A jam-packed January comes to a close at the second of this season’s three new venues, as Italy’s Piancavallo is set to make its debut as a top-level host. Located some 60kms due north of Venice, Piancavallo proved its worth hosting the Italian national championships last season. With the natural amphitheatre around the competition slope making for excellent viewing and the always enthusiastic Italian crowd on hand, this should be a good one.

Moscow (RUS), PSL, Feb 1, 2020 - Just finally confirmed once again for the 2019/20 season, the Russian capital of Moscow has held one of the season’s highlight events nearly every year since 2009/10. With the one-of-a-kind slope that is part scaffold, part earth works, the backdrop of one of the world’s great metropolises, and the strong Russian team on hand, the Moscow event will be a thriller once again this season. 

PyeongChang (KOR), PGS, Feb 22, 2020 - Once again the FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup will return to the site of one of the greatest Olympic moments of all time, where Ester Ledecka (CZE) won PGS gold at PyeongChang 2018 to become the first athlete ever to win two gold medals at the same Games in two different sports. Featuring some of the best racing snow on earth and a perfect pitch for PGS, the venue at PyeongChang’s Phoenix Park is second to none.

Blue Mountain (CAN), PGS x2, Feb 29-Mar 1, 2020 - With what is unquestionably the best-named competition of the season, Blue Mountain is set to make it’s alpine SB World Cup debut with the “Alpine Snow TKO” as we flip the calendar over to March. Blue Mountain has proven to be a top-tier World Cup host over the years, with a number of ski and snowboard cross World Cup competitions already to its credit, and with a finish area right in the resort village on the shores of Lake Ontario, the 2019/20 PGS crystal globes will be awarded in one of the most charming settings on tour.

Winterberg (GER), PSL & PRT, Mar 14-15, 2020 - Winterberg has been a late-season highlight since the 2014/15 season, and once again the Hochsauerland resort will see the PSL, PRT, and overall crystal globes awarded on its slopes. Located roughly two hours away from five different major cities, Winterberg is one of the most popular resorts in Germany and ideal venue to finish off the 2019/20 FIS Snowboard Alpine World Cup.

Three riders to watch - WOMEN (click for athlete bio page):

Ester Ledecka (CZE) - Quite simply one of the most incredible athletes on snow. Ledecka won both the alpine ski super G gold AND the PGS gold medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, becoming the first athlete in history to win two golds at the same Games in sports that use different equipment. Last season Ledecka claimed her fourth-straight parallel overall globe despite missing the first third of the season to focus on skiing, and the 24-year-old also has three PGS crystal globes and two world champs gold medals to her name in her seven seasons of World Cup action. Hasn’t finished outside the top-10 since the 2014/15 season while collecting 22 podiums in that time, including 14 victories.

Selina Joerg (GER) - 31-year-old Joerg finished second in all three of the PSL, PGS, and parallel overall rankings for the second-straight season in 2018/19, while also claiming the Utah 2019 world championships gold medal along the way. Since making her World Cup debut back in 2005 when she was just 17 years old, Joerg has risen steadily through the ranks to become one of the most successful and consistent riders on tour. 

Julie Zogg (SUI) - 27-year-old Zogg had a season to remember in 2018/19, claiming four podiums on the World Cup season on her way to claiming the PSL crystal globe, while also taking the Utah 2019 world championships PSL gold medal along the way. Entering her 12th full World Cup season in 2019/20, Zogg stands as the Swiss team’s leader while the squad waits for Nevin Galmarini to return from back issues that have kept him out of competition since the middle of last season.

Not to be overlooked: Sabine Schoeffmann (AUT), Nadine Ochner (ITA), Ramona Hofmeister (GER), Natalia Soboleva (RUS), Patrizia Kummer (AUT), Milena Bykova (RUS)

Three riders to watch (MEN):

Andrey Sobalev (RUS) - The Russian team has an abundance of top-level talent across both their men’s and women’s (see: double Utah 2019 world championships gold medallist Dmitry Loginov), but no other rider had the strong start-to-finish campaign that 30-year-old Sobolev had last season. Earning podiums in all three of PSL, PGS, and PRT (on a team with his sister Natalia) events, including a season-highlight win on home soil in Moscow, Sobolev claimed the men’s parallel overall crystal globe while finishing second overall in PSL and fourth overall in the PGS final rankings.

Tim Mastnak (SLO) - It took until the final race of the season for him to lock it down, but lock it down he did, as Tim Mastnak’s fourth place finish in Scuol gave him the 2018/19 PGS crystal globe - the third time a Slovenia has won the coveted award. Last season was a huge leap forward for the 28-year-old, as he had never finished higher than ninth on any of the final season rankings up to that point. If Mastnak can up his PSL game in the coming season we could very well see him challenging for the parallel overall title in 2019/20, as his 4,116 points had him in second, less than 500 points back of Sobolev at last season’s end. 

Stefan Baumeister (GER) - Something of a slalom specialist, 26-year-old Baumeister rebounded from an occasionally difficult 2017/18 season to rise to the top of the PSL standings in 2018/19, claiming the crystal globe on the strength of a season that saw him take three individual podiums - including a win in Bad Gastein. Throw in back-to-back bronze medals in PSL and PGS at the Utah 2019 world championships, and a PRT podium at the final event of the season with his teammate Selina Joerg, and you’ve got yourself quite the tidy job, indeed.

Not to be overlooked: Dmitry Loginov (RUS), Roland Fischnaller (ITA), Lukas Mathies (AUT), Andreas Prommegger (AUT), Aaron March (ITA), Benjamin Karl (AUT), Zan Kosir (SLO) 

Team to watch:

Austria 1 - Featuring a grizzled veteran in four-time world champion Benjamin Karl and the youthful grace of 21-year-old Daniela Ulbing, Austria’s top squad was unbeatable last season, going three-for-three in team competition to claim the PRT globe by season’s end. With the perfect mix of talent and camaraderie, Karl and Ulbing were and will continue to be a joy to watch in team competition.

Livestream:

Perhaps the biggest news of the off-season for fans of FIS Snowboard, Freestyle, and Freeski World Cup action was the announcement that all World Cup events - save for those with special broadcast rights restrictions such as the ones seen in Switzerland and Austria - will be live streamed on the FIS Snowboard or FIS Freestyle YouTube channels this season.

While geoblocking restrictions will limit the free viewing of our livestreams, the new agreement with broadcast rights holder InFront Sports and Media is an important and exciting one for our sports moving forward, and we look forward to growing engagement and viewership over the season as awareness spreads.

Quick links:

 
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