The Alpine Ski World Cup at home with friends
Everything was ready in the week before Christmas in Val Gardena/Gröden: Once again, the whole valley got dressed up and felt honored to welcome the Alpine Ski World Cup for the 52nd time on the Saslong as part of the Speed Classics. Organizers, athletes and fans looked forward to great races - but the weather didn't quite play along.
Only one downhill training
The starting signal for the race week was originally planned with the first downhill training on Wednesday, but already on the first official race day the fog thwarted the organizers' plans: The race jury decided to cancel the first downhill training for safety reasons because dense fog banks had settled in the middle part of the track and even after a longer wait, visibility was not significantly improving,.
After the cancellation of the Wednesday training session, the only training run for the downhill classic took place on Thursday. Kjetil Jansrud clocked the fastest time on a slightly shortened track. The experienced Norwegian relegated his team mate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde as well as the French veteran Johan Clarey to second and third place, respectively. With local favorite Dominik Paris placing 4th, an athlete from the Italian team also showed great promise in training.
Kriechmayr wins the Super-G, downhill classic cancelled
On Friday, things finally got serious with the super-G, which - just like the downhill training - was held on a slightly shortened track. As the fog continued to persist even in the super-G, the race became a real test of patience due to several longer interruptions. With difficult ground visibility but excellent track conditions, Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr finally took gold and celebrated his first triumph on the legendary Saslong. The 28-year-old showed a great performance especially in the lower part of the course and prevailed just ahead of Val Gardena/Gröden specialist Kjetil Jansrud and Thomas Dreßen from Germany. Dominik Paris in fifth place ensured that the local fans at the finish of the Saslong had reason to celebrate.
While the super-G could still be completed regularly despite difficult external conditions, the downhill on Saturday literally fell through: Heavy snow and rainfall made the track impassable, and, thus, the race had to be cancelled in the early hours of the morning. After the weather change, the athletes' safety was no longer guaranteed - so the cancellation of the downhill classic was inevitable.
A colourful program provides a worthy setting
Not only on but also off the Saslong, the numerous fans in Val Gardena/Gröden were not short on entertainment offers: In addition to the many celebrations and events on the fringe of training and races, the "1970 World Ski Championship Anniversary Party" on Friday evening was one of the big highlights of the events in support of the races. During this celebration, which took place in the VIP tent Saslounge in the finish stadium, numerous ski legends, who wrote sporting history in Val Gardena/Gröden five decades ago, came together. The stars of that time looked back on the World Ski Championships of 50 years ago in a fitting atmosphere and revived the style of the 70s.