Aspen: World Cup Finals Time
The final week of the World Cup sees the Men and Women all head to Aspen for the final battles of the World Cup.
Alexis Pinturault was the first racer to secure a Globe for the Alpine Combined back in January, since then Kjetil Jansrud has secured the Super G Globe and heads to Aspen leading the Downhill standings as well. Season 2016 - 2017 has been tough for the World Cup Rebels yet they have still won 18 races with 37 other podiums as well as three Golds at the World Championships, three silvers and three bronze medals, including a clean sweep of the Men’s Super G podium.
After winning both Giant Slalom races in Soelden and then winning all three Men’s races in Val d’Isere, the season started in great fashion. Heading into the World Cup Finals, the promise from the beginning of the season has seen new names make the step up to the top step and on to the podium. Christine Scheyer won her first race on the Downhill World Cup tour in Altenmarkt as did Mathieu Faivre in Giant Slalom in Val d’Isere.
If winning their first races was exciting, the joy in seeing two established Rebels come back from injury to place on the podium, was inspiring. First Lindsey Vonn won the Downhill in Garmisch Partenkirchen, just days after making her comeback to the tour. Anna Veith was the next to return to the podium when she placed third in the Cortina d’Ampezzo Super G. From being out of racing for over a year, the smile of Veith on the podium was beaming, sadly injury deprived Veith of continuing her season all the way to Finals week. Kajsa Kling will also not be racing at the World Cup Finals.
The speed races have seen the most amount of success for the Rebels going into Finals week. Kjetil Jansrud needs to finish ahead of Peter Fill to add the Downhill Globe to his Super G Globe for the season yet Beat Feuz, World Champion in Downhill, plus Matthias Mayer, Manuel Osborne-Paradis, Erik Guay, Johan Clarey, Adrien Theaux and Guillermo Fayed will all be looking to end the season on a high.
The Men’s Super G team will be aiming to add to the impressive result seen in St Moritz where they cleaned up the podium. The Globe is secured for Jansrud yet Josef Ferstl and Blaise Giezendanner will be making their debuts at the World Cup Finals joining Mayer, Feuz, Guay, Dustin Cook, Theaux, Osborne-Paradis and Andrew Weibrecht all searching for glory. In all 11 of the 25 racers that qualified for the World Cup Finals in the Men’s Super G, race on HEAD.
Matts Olsson was another to return to racing this season after injury and returned to take podiums in Garmisch Partenkirchen and Kranjska Gora. Olsson goes to Aspen with high hopes of challenging Pinturault, Faivre, Andre Myhrer, Gino Caviezel, Jansrud and Tommy Ford in the final Giant Slalom.
In 2016, Myhrer ended the Slalom draught first with a podium then winning at the World Cup Finals. Jonathan Nordbotten joins Alexis Pinturault and Myhrer looking to gain success in the final days race.
If the Men have had success, the early season success of Lara Gut was cut short in warm up for the slalom in the Alpine Combined at St Moritz. Gut still holds third place in the Downhill, Super G and Giant Slalom Globes despite not having raced since St Moritz. With only the top 15 able to score points in the final races, there is a chance of holding on to these places. With Ragnhild Mowinckel, Ramona Siebenhofer and Corinne Suter all looking for speed performances as well, the World Cup Rebels are not done and dusted. Elena Curtoni could deprive Gut of the last spot on the podium with a podium finish in Aspen.
The Women’s Giant Slalom sees a strong group racing with Stephanie Brunner, Mowinckel, Coralie Frasse Sombet, Wendy Holdener and the returning Sara Hector in the battle for success.
Lindsey Vonn will be looking to add to her impressive haul of race wins in front of the American crowds in the Downhill and Super G while Holdener and Bernadette Schild will be looking to add to the Slalom form they both showed in the last race in Squaw Valley.
The future is also bright for the Rebels with four World Junior Champions also heading to World Cup Finals: Nils Alphand in Men’s Super G; Laura Pirovano in Women’s Giant Slalom, Camille Rast in Women’s Slalom (will race in Europa Cup Finals instead of World Cup Finals) and Adrian Pertl in the Men’s Slalom.