The 2019 Andorra World Cup Finals, decisive for the speed competitions
Some 156 athletes will take part in the last and definitive contest of the World Cup circuit
The technical squads that will attend the event exceed the figures of the 2017 and 2018 finals
The world's top male and female skiers are about to arrive at Grandvalira to compete, from 11 to 17 March, in the Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals, the most demanding winter sports event ever organised in Andorra. There will be a total of 156 athletes from 18 countries participating in the last and definitive contest of the World Cup circuit in the 2018-2019 season, among whom will be the 25 best specialists in each event, the Olympic champions and the current junior champions.
After two days of training, the five days of competition will include the Downhill, Super-G, Slalom and Giant Slalom races in both the men's and the women's categories, as well as the team Alpine skiing competition. The Finals will decide the winners of the year's Crystal Globes, both for the overall women's and men's champion and the winners of each discipline on the circuit. The battle will be especially intense for the speed events (Downhill and Super-G), where there is still no clear winner among either the men or the women.
The technical trials (Slalom and Giant Slalom) will take place on the Avet slope in Soldeu, which has a new, broader finish line thanks to the construction of a skiable platform over the river, bringing the piste even closer to the village of Soldeu. Meanwhile, the speed trials will be held on the Àliga slope in El Tarter. There will therefore be two different finish lines; although this requires more resources from the organisation, the intention is to present the best possible option to the world in terms of competition slopes.
Today, the final organisational and sporting details of the trials were presented at a press conference held in Soldeu, attended by the managing director of the organising committee, Conrad Blanch, the managing director of Grandvalira-Ensisa, David Hidalgo, and the chief of race, Jordi Pujol.
The final battle for the Crystal Globes
The 2018-2019 World Cup circuit has been dominated by the Austrian Marcel Hirscher and the US skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who have demonstrated their great superiority over the rest of the competitors. The Austrian is the second-best male skier of all time in terms of number of victories, surpassed only by the legendary Ingemar Stenmark, while Shiffrin is the third-best female skier in history in terms of wins. At the end of 2018, she beat Hirscher's record by racking up 15 victories in the World Cup in a single year.
With one event left, Marcel Hirscher is already the winner in the Giant Slalom and Slalom, and a lot would have to go wrong to stop him from once again becoming the overall champion of the competition (which he has won the last seven times). In the case of Shiffrin, she is already the overall winner for the season and the winner in the Slalom.
However, the battle is still undecided in the women's Giant Slalom (in which Tessa Worley is trying to challenge Shiffrin) and in the speed events (DH and SG) in both the men's and women's competition, after the reigning champions of speed, Aksel Lund Svindal and Lindsey Vonn, retired last February. It will be in Andorra, during the last week of the season's competitions, that the winners of these disciplines will be decided. In the men's competition, the battle will be fought out between the Italian Dominik Paris, the Swiss Beat Feuz and the Austrian Vincent Kriechmayr, while among the women, the contest is between the Austrians Nicole Schmidhofer and Ramona Schmidhofer in Downhill, and between Mikaela Shiffrin and Tina Weirather, from Liechtenstein.
The leading men and their track record
Austria, 2 March 1989. The skier to beat and the winner of the last seven editions of the general classification of the World Cup. The Austrian, a specialist and the undisputed king in the technical disciplines since 2012, has won the World Cup Slalom and Giant Slalom titles on five occasions. This season he is once again the competition's big favourite, leading the general classification for both the Slalom and Giant Slalom.
France, 20 March 1991. Since 2016, he has won sixteen World Cup races, and this season he is ranked second in the general classification: first in Combined Alpine and third in the Giant Slalom. The Frenchman and son of hoteliers from Courchevel has twice been a junior world champion in Giant Slalom, in 2009 and 2011, and won a bronze medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the same discipline.
Norway, 2 July 1994. Specialist in technical disciplines and Marcel Hirscher's big rival in the World Cup. Last season he finished second in the general classification of the World Cup, as well as in the Slalom and Giant Slalom. In the 2016 season, the Norwegian won the World Cup Slalom title. This season he is currently ranked third in the overall classification, second in the Giant Slalom and fifth in the Slalom.
Italy, 14 April 1989. He is a specialist in speed disciplines (DH and SG) and has been Aksel Lund Svindal's big rival in recent years. Throughout his career, he has won 10 Downhill and 2 Super-G competitions. This season, at the moment, he is first in Super-G, second in Downhill and fourth overall.
Switzerland, 11 February 1987. Last season, he was proclaimed the World Cup Downhill champion, the first title of his career, which was well deserved for this speedy skier. In 2012, he finished second in the Downhill ranking and third in the Super-G ranking. Since the 2015 season, he has progressed and dedicated himself exclusively to DH. This season, he is currently ranked first in the Downhill, in front of his great rival, Dominik Paris.
The leading women and their track record
USA, 13 March 1995. The female skier to beat was the queen of the Slalom in the 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2013 seasons, as well as overall champion in the last two seasons. She will celebrate her 24th birthday during the Grandvalira World Cup Finals. Last December, she became the youngest skier ever to win 50 World Cup races among all of the events, and the eighth athlete to do so in history. This season, she dominates the overall rankings, as well as those of the Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super-G.
Slovakia, 13 June 1995. This specialist in technical events has challenged Mikaela Shiffrin this season and sits in second place in the general ranking of the World Cup circuit and in the Slalom, and third place in the Giant Slalom. In December, after winning her sixth World Cup trial, she took the Slovakian record for the Alpine skier with the most victories.
Switzerland, 12 May 1993. Finished second in the general classification and in the Slalom in the 2018 World Cup. This technical specialist also dares to compete in speed trials and was the winner of the World Cup Combined Event in both 2018 and 2016. This season, she is currently in third place in both the general classification and the Slalom ranking.
Austria, 15 March 1989. This fast Austrian skier is one of the big surprises of the season. This winter she achieved the first three victories of her career, which have placed her first in the Downhill classification, third in the Super-G and fifth in the overall ranking.
Team event with participation from the Andorran team
The Andorran Ski Federation (FAE) will be present at the Alpine Team Event (ATE), which will take place on the Àliga slope in El Tarter on Friday 15 March, with participation from Mireia Gutiérrez, Sissi Hinterreitner, Carla Mijares (reserve), Axel Esteve, Àlex Rius and Xavi Salvadores (reserve).
More technical staff than at any other final
This week, the organisers of the 2019 Andorra Finals have started the final sprint in their preparations for the event. While the technical teams are busy installing nets, preparing the finish lines and setting up the infrastructure for the television broadcast, the logistics personnel are putting the finishing touches on arrangements to guarantee maximum fluidity in the access points to the two competition venues.
Indeed, the general secretary of the Organising Committee, Marc Mitjana, has stated with certainty that the forecasts of the number of people of the various technical groups that will attend the event, including teams from the different countries, staff of the International Ski Federation (FIS), journalists, broadcasting teams and clubs, are already above the figures of the last Finals held in Àre (Sweden) last year, and Aspen (United States) two years ago.
3,000 parking spaces to ensure accessibility
With staff and teams, the great white circus will move around 2,000 people, accredited and accommodated in Andorra. In addition, one must add skiers that will be those days in Grandvalira and users who want to attend the Finals as spectators.
For those days of high influx, it is recommended to use the peripheral entrances to gain access to the competition slopes (Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig, Canillo and Encamp). In these four sectors, there will be special parking facilities - in the case of Canillo barrier parking will be free - and the lifts necessary to reach the track to Soldeu and El Tarter will have special opening hours to ensure that the public can enjoy the trials. Grandvalira access to its 6 sectors at 8:30 a.m., Saturday and Sunday.
On the other hand, the stretch of the main road 2 between El Tarter and Soldeu will have one entire side allocated for car parking, and a shuttle bus will be available to visitors, which will take them to the foot of the slopes and that will connect the two sectors on a continuous basis. Finally, the approximately 500 members of foreign ski clubs that are expected to attend the meeting will enter the country via the border with France and the buses will unload them at the northern entrance of Soldeu, then parking the vehicles in Grau Roig car park. In total, there will be 3,000 parking spaces available to ensure accessibility to the whole event.