The 2014/2015 FIS Alpine ski season roundup
One of the best season’s in recent memory is now over following the conclusion of the World Cup finals in Meribel last week and the athletes can now take a well-earned break; but who came out on top?
2014/2015 has to go down as the year of the Austrians. Anna Fenninger claimed the women’s Overall crown, Marcel Hirscher took the men’s title for the fourth season in a row and the team finished on almost twice as many points as their closest rivals.
Hirscher is king again
The 26 year old Austrian swept the competition off their feet in the technical events this winter, adding the Slalom and Giant Slalom titles to his Overall crown. At the World Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek at the start of February, he also clinched two golds and one silver medal, to make him by far in a way the stand out male skier of 2014/2015. But perhaps his most impressive achievement was his victory in the Garmisch GS at the start of March. He won by a huge 3.28 seconds, the third biggest winning margin in the history of the sport on what was an extremely tough and rutted course. Even Hirscher himself could not quite believe his result, remarking in post-race interviews that he had “no idea” how he did it. It was his first race on next year’s new equipment which bodes extremely well for him next season, but will the rest be able to keep up?
Fenninger pips Maze
The women’s overall competition will go down as one of the tightest in history, as heading into the final race the Austrian and Slovenian racers were only separated by 18 points. Tina Maze held the advantage and Fenninger had to finish ahead of her in the final race of the season, the GS in Meribel. The nerves of steel that helped Fenninger claim two golds at the World Champs saw her win the race, claim the 100 points and crucially pip Maze into third place on the day and second place overall. It capped off a fantastic season for Fenninger who finished on the podium no less than 16 times, including five race wins on the spin after her World Championship GS victory. Maze ended the season empty handed despite finishing in the top-3 overall in Downhill, Super-G and Slalom. Their contest again is likely to be the highlight of the 2015/2016 season, with Maze likely to be desperate to regain the title she won last season.
Jansrud and Vonn – the king and queen of speed
Two racers stood head and shoulders above the rest of the field in the speed events – Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud and the American Lindsey Vonn. Both won their respective Super-G and Downhill titles and notched up an incredible 15 victories between them this season (from a total of only 32 speed races). Jansrud’s pre-Christmas form was particularly impressive as he notched up four wins and two second places in the first six races of the season. Surprisingly however, their combined medal haul from the World Championships was limited to just Vonn’s bronze in the Super-G, as Jansrud made a big and painful mistake in the Super-G and Vonn perhaps struggled to deal with the hometown pressure. Despite this, and considering it was Vonn’s comeback season and that Jansrud had to take on the mantel of the injured Aksel Lund Svindal, both racers achievements were fantastic.
And the best of the rest
The young American slalom skier, Mikaela Shiffrin, again proved her significant talent by wrapping up the Slalom title by winning the final race in Meribel. For her to compete with Maze and Fenninger for the Overall title she must improve on her GS and Super-G skills to become more of an all-round skier. There were signs that this was happening as she finished 3rd in the GS standings and in recent interviews has expressed her desire to train more in Super-G over the summer.
Veteran, 34 year old, Austrian Hannes Reichelt also had a great season, finishing second in the Downhill standings. He spoiled the Swiss party by winning on the mighty Lauberhorn in Wengen and he also topped the podium in Kvitfjell, Garmisch and Beaver Creek.
A bright future for Team GB
Some very positive results came out of the Delancey British Ski and Snowboard Team this winter, especially from Slalom specialist Dave Ryding. The 27 year old from Lancashire secured consecutive top-20 results before Christmas and then came in the top-30 three further times in January to finish ranked 30th overall this season on the Slalom tour. There have also been some great results at Europa Cup level from Alex Tilley and Charlie Guest in the women’s technical disciplines, which hopefully will lead to some more World Cup starts next season.
Photo credits: Facebook