Sunday arrived the most feared moment by all ski addicted, the last two races of the finals.
It’s curious what we feel, there is happiness in seeing the culmination of the season, the awards, the coronation of all the early wakes on weekends and hours spent in front of the TV, jumping on the couch, cheering for our favorite; but there is also sadness in knowing that we have to wait many, many months before the gate Soelden is going to be reopened and that the wonderful whirlwind of circus chase us in again.
The last two races, as usual, were the men’s slalom and the women’s giant.
The slalom first run, designed by the Austrian coach Pirchner, was very angled, even on the flat part, and it was very slow, while the second, by the Swedish coach Pfeiffer, was faster and more streamlined.
Won the highest step of the podium the German Felix Neureuther, thanks to two runs performed to perfection, without even the slightest deviation.
Second, once again on the podium, by thirty hundreds, arrived Marcel Hirscher, not at his best and a little cautious in the first run, while in the second, after controlling in the wall, went into continuous progression, with his extremely aggressive skiing, but this year always very precise.
Third by fifty hundreds from the German was Ivica Kostelic, a computer, clean, precise and well central as ever. This Croatian veteran starts often a bit on the sly, to be at peak form in January and to finish the season among the best.
This is, with positions reversed between Hirscher and Neureuther, the Slalom Cup podium that sees in first position Marcel Hirscher (AUT) to 960 points, the second Felix Neureuther (GER) 716 to points and third Ivica Kostelic (CRO) 535 to points.
Best of the Italians was Manfred Moelgg, tenth, that still managed to remain fifth in the cup of specialty, so to stay in the first set of bibs again next year. Eleventh was ranked Giuliano Razzoli, that has been perhaps a bit too much cautios, while fourteenth concluded Stefano Gross, in big trouble because of a severe back pain as a result of the Team Event, where the movements required are not those which a pure slalomist is accustomed to. Eighteenth was Patrick Thaler, who was unable to find the beat in either run, came out instead in the first run Cristian Deville.
Achieved the fifth victory in giant in this season of the unstoppable Tina Maze, that crown with a win an unforgettable season. After controlling a little steepest part during the first run, in the second he pulled up to from beginning to end, playing in a perfect way the track.
At the end of the first run Tessa Worley was ahead. Staring with the bib one, she found that even thin layer of snow that has allowed a greater grip on the steepest part, that then turned into a marble slab. In the second, while skiing very well, however, failed to sign the fist time and slipped behind the Slovenian thirty-five cents.
Third came the house champion, Lara Gut, a second and thirty-eight hundreds from the Maze. The athlete from the Ticino skied with her usual aggressiveness that distinguish her and that on the hard ground of this giant has paid off. She managed to climb back on the podium of the giant, where she was missing from December 28, 2008, when she finished third in Semmering.
Fourth after the first run was Denise Karbon, but while she was brushing the gates on the steepest part, she straddled, falling into ruin. She was immediately taken to hospital, where a fracture of the tibial malleolus and the proximal part of the right fibula was found.
Great was Nadia Fanchini’s race, that, despite a mistake at the end of the second run, when only a few gets from the end of the arm got caught in a pole, finished sixth. Fall out instead without consequences during the first run Irene Curtoni.
The ranking of the Giant Cup is this: Tina Maze (SLO) at 800 points, Anna Fenninger (AUT) at 480 points and Viktoria Rebensburg (GER) at 411 points.
With these races ended the season and the time has come to wrap it up.
The women’s season was dominated entirely by Tina Maze, from theoverture in Soelden until the last race in Lenzerheide. The Slovenian in fact won twelve races, in all disciplines, and twenty-four podiums, making the points record ever achieved by an athlete in a season, 2414, both in women’s and in men’s field. In addition to this she also won the Super G and Giant Cup and three medals at the World Championships, gold in super g and two silvers, in the giant slalom and in the combined.
This absolute domination was due to several factors, first of which is perfect athletic training optimized by the Slovenian team and the confidence in her own ability which she gained from the successes obtained immediately. Another important factor was the absence of her opponent number 1 to win the Cup, Lindsey Vonn. The American was hospitalized in November for the strong abdominal pain and even returning to do the en plein Lake Louise, has struggled a lot to recover from this hospitalization, and decided to skip a month of competition. Immediately after she started to compete in St. Anton, won the downhill in Cortina and giant in Maribor. Unfortunately, in the World Championship super-G in Schladming, which has roused, not without reason, a lot of criticism, because of soft snow, her right ski git caught in the bottom landing from a jump, causing the rupture of the ligaments of the knee and tibial plateau in her right leg. Nevertheless, the American, by virtue of her two victories in Lake Louise, the victory in Cortina and sixth place in St. Anton was able to win the Downhill Cup.
Many of the other Maze’s opponents, also due to the change of materials in giant, have been irregular, allowing her, that remained solid and consistent throughout the season, to earn countless podiums and points.
The standing is then the following: Tina Maze (SLO) at 2414 points, Maria Hoefl-Riesch (GER) at 1101 and Anna Fenninger at 1029 points.
In men, however, there was to the last a tug of war between Marcel Hirscher and Aksel Lund Svindal, that, in the end, due to the cancellation of fast races in Lenzerheide, was won by the Austrian.
Hirscher, as Tomba, managed to win the World Cup by competing in only two disciplines. In these, however, has shown incredible consistency, getting on the podium in all the races, except in Adelboden’s giant, where an error in the final relegated him to sixteenth place. In addition to the General Cup won the Slalom Cup, the gold medal in the World Championship in Schladiming in slalom and team event and the silver in giant slalom.
The Norwegian has been extremely consistent, winning nine podiums, including five victories, but failed to hit the target in the two great downhill classics, the races in Wengen and in Kitzbuhel.
The podium of the General Cup was this: Marcel Hirscher (AUT) at 1535, Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) at 1226 points and Ted Ligety (USA) at 1022 points.
This year, even more than last year, the strong pressure of young talent has been felt, first of all Mikaela Shiffrin’s. The young American, after being able to get on the podium last year in Lienz, won the Slalom Cup, with seven podium, including four wins, and the gold medal in slalom at the World Championship in Schladming.
Has also been a great season for the French Alexis Pinturault, who earned seven podiums in three different disciplines, slalom, giant and combined, including three victories. These two athletes have been awarded with the Rising Star award offered by Longines as the best young in the white circus.
So we say good-bye to this wonderful season, hoping that these long summer months go by quickly and waiting for the reopen of the curtain of our beloved World Cup.