Alpine Ski World Championships 2015 – The Winners and Losers.
The 43rd Alpine Ski World Championships concluded on Sunday with a thrilling men’s Slalom race won by France’s Jean-Baptiste Grange. This brought to an end 13 days of intense competition which proved to be a lucky 13 for some, but unfortunately not so for many others. Picking the winners and losers from the championships was difficult, but here are my top four of each:
Anna Fenninger (Austria)
Fenninger came away from Beaver Creek as the championship’s most successful athlete, picking up two gold medals (GS and Super-G) as well as a silver in the Downhill. Having finished second six times this season, for her to claim top spot twice marked a massive turnaround for the skier from Salzburg. She also only just missed out on a fourth medal in the Combined, showing her talents as one of the best all-round skiers in the world.
Tina Maze (Slovenia)
The Slovenian number one also showed her excellent all-round abilities by winning the Combined to go with her gold in the Downhill and silver from the Super-G. By finishing 8th and 5th in the Slalom and Giant Slalom respectively, Maze has now finished inside the top-10 in every one of her last 14 World Championship races – a remarkable record.
Marcel Hirscher (Austria)
Although he crashed out of the Slalom, Hirscher had a great two weeks, claiming three medals – two of which were gold. In one of the most incredible races in World Championship history, Hirscher started the Combined in 30th place after the Downhill leg, but tore down his Slalom run to set a time that none of the next 29 racers could beat. Bear in mind that he was over three seconds behind some skiers which makes his achievement even more incredible.
Ted Ligety (USA)
Ted Ligety regained some pride for the home nation by claiming a resounding victory in the Giant Slalom ahead of his great rival Marcel Hirscher. The winning margin of 0.45 seconds was the largest in any men’s competition and provided the Beaver Creek crowd with by far the biggest cheer of the week.
And the losers
A return of no medals was a massive disappointment for the Italians, who came into the championships with high hopes. The men’s speed team could finish no better than Dominik Paris’ 14th in the Super-G and Roberto Nani placed 6th for the best result in the technical events. Two 8th places by Daniela Merighetti and Francesca Marsaglia represent the best results for the women’s team, marking a disappointing set of results for one of the sport’s powerhouses.
Lindsey Vonn (USA)
The golden girl of the championships, the local resident and big favourite for glory in the speed events only finished with one medal – a bronze in the Super-G. Fantastic skiing by her rivals Fenninger and Maze certainly had a great deal to do with this, but perhaps some nerves from all the hype crept in and meant that Vonn could not ski with her usual freedom and aggression.
Kjetil Jansrud (Norway)
Again like Vonn he won a medal, taking second in the Combined but this still will represent a disappointing return for the big Norwegian. He went into both the Downhill and Super-G as red hot favourite having won five races this season as well one of the training runs at Beaver Creek. In the Downhill itself he hooked a gate with his arm, jarring his shoulder and effectively taking away his chance of a victory.
Bode Miller (USA)
This is somewhat harsh considering he has only just returned from injury, but Miller had a nightmare run in the Super-G on the Birds of Prey course. He caught his shoulder whilst in the lead in a gate at 60mph and was flipped round, landing on his ski in the process and badly gashing his leg. This and the resultant hamstring injury put him out of the championships – hopefully he will return to compete again.
And how did I do?
Before the start of the championships I predicted the outcomes of all 11 medal races. I was sadly let down by the favourites in the speed races, with Vonn and Ligety failing to win in either race. I correctly tipped Shiffrin for Slalom victory, as well as Maze in the Combined – so a return of 2/11 is slightly disappointing from my perspective! Many of my podium tips stepped up to win though (Fenninger, Maze, Reichelt, Ligety) so I wasn’t too far off…
The World Cup continues this weekend with races from Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria and Maribor in Slovenia – catch the action live on British Eurosport. The next World Championships will be held in 2017 in St. Moritz.
Click on the image below to check out some mad skills from one of the forerunners in Sunday’s Slalom!