Friday October 16, 2020
It’s all back on the slopes: The Alpine Ski World Cup begins with the giant slalom on the weekend in Sölden. Despite Corona you have to drive, otherwise “winter sports are dead”, says the DSV sports director. When does Thomas Dreßen start? Who are the other favorites? And when does it get down to business in Germany? Here are the most important questions and answers about the Ski World Cup.
At the weekend the first races of the season of the Alpine Ski World Cup take place, traditionally in Sölden, traditionally with a giant slalom for women (Saturday, 10 a.m. / 1 p.m.) and a giant slalom for men (Sunday, 10 a.m. / 1.15 p.m.). The ZDF and Eurosport broadcast. The highlight of the season should be the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo / Italy (February 8-21).
The corona pandemic has also influenced the World Cup calendar. The North American races were canceled early, they should take place in Europe. After Sölden, this year the first step is to Lech / Zürs, where a parallel giant slalom will be held for women and men. Then the women will travel to Levi / Finland for two slaloms (November 21-22), the men will not follow until the beginning of December with two giant slaloms in Val d’Isere / France (December 5th / 6th).
Ski races in Corona times – does that have to be?
From the perspective of those involved: yes, absolutely. “The focus must be on the fact that something can happen at all. If we are not present, 80 percent of the associations go bankrupt. Then winter sports are dead,” said Wolfgang Maier, sports director of the German Ski Association (DSV). By winter sports he doesn’t just mean alpine competitions. Associations like the DSV cannot finance themselves without World Cup events and income from television and sponsorship contracts.
What other effects does Corona have?
Numerous. The races in Sölden, for example, have been brought forward by a week to avoid tourist skiing. Spectators are not allowed. Safety has priority: Those involved in the race (racers, supervisors, organizers, media) are strictly separated. The Swiss announced on Friday that no spectators would be admitted to any of their races either, which means: no partying fans at the Hundschopf in Wengen, no seething crowds in the Adelboden stadium.
How did the preparation go?
The training opportunities over the summer were severely limited. The mandatory training camps in Chile or Argentina (downhill riders) and New Zealand (technicians) were canceled. The Germans therefore jostled with other nations mostly on the Swiss glaciers in Saas-Fee (technicians) and Zermatt (downhill riders). “That was a blatant loss of quality,” says Maier, “but we’re not complaining. Given the circumstances, it was okay.”
When does Thomas Dreßen start?
Germany’s currently best and most successful ski racer has to wait two months for his first start. On December 12th and 13th, a downhill and a super-G are planned in Val d’Isere, on the 18th and 19th, super-G and downhill in Val Gardena will follow. Last winter he won three races and took third place three times. After Viktoria Rebensburg’s resignation, he is initially the only one who is eligible for victories or podium positions.
Who else should you watch out for?
To Mikaela Shiffrin from the USA. The best female ski racer of the present was unable to defend her title as overall World Cup winner last winter because she missed crucial races in February due to her father’s accidental death. Now she is chasing the winning records of Lindsey Vonn (USA / 82) and Ingemar Stenmark (Sweden / 86) – but with a delay: the 66-time winner leaves Sölden out of safety because of a back injury.
And with the men?
Henrik Kristoffersen was already the favorite to win the overall World Cup last winter and thus succeeded the retired Marcel Hirscher (Austria) – but then the over-ambitious Norwegian tensed up and only finished third behind compatriot Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and all-rounder Alexis Pinturault (France). This year it should finally work.
Do you drive in Germany?
Yes. As usual, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is on the World Cup calendar with two weekends, first the women drive a downhill and a super-G (January 30/31), then the men (February 5/6). Their giant slalom was replaced this time by a Super-G – because of Corona: This prevents two large groups of runners from meeting in one place.
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