Carolina Ruiz: “The Àliga SG run in Grandvalira is on a par with all the best speed ski runs in the world”
Former World Cup skier Carolina Ruiz, the only Spanish skier who has won a World Cup Downhill event, had a broad smile on her face at the end of her day at the Àliga SG and Àliga SL runs at the El Tarter sector of Grandvalira. A winner at Méribel (France) in 2013, Ruiz stated that it is “a highly diverse track with different orientations in an area without trees that later enters the forest, with a large variety of terrain that makes it fun yet very selective at the same time".
She made these statements during the press conference which also saw the interventions of Andorran Prime Minister M.I. Mr. Antoni Martí; the Consul of Canillo and President of the Organising Committee Mr. Josep Mandicó; the President of the Andorran Ski Federation (FAE) Mr. Albert Coma; Credit Andorrà General Manager Xavier Cornellà; and the Director of the World Cup Organising Committee Conrad Blanch.
The Prime Minister explained that "Andorra grows when an event like the World Cup arrives here and we know that success is achieved thanks to the great work of all the teams involved, the volunteers and all of the citizens who are 100% committed to it". This is the greatness of the Principality, it is what makes us different and we will all together once again achieve a collective success. We are the country of the Pyrenees but, above all, we want to be the country of snow".
A valid appraisal
Ruiz knows the Àliga SG run well, since she competed here in the European Cup's Super-G event that took place in 2014. The Andalusian-born skier explained in the press conference, which took place in the new ski lift building in El Tarter, that a World Cup "puts the country and the resort that organises it on the map of the ski world elite, because to prepare a speed track the mountain must be very powerful and the technical staff, facilities and services must be of the highest quality".
The skier, with more than 15 years of experience in the World Cup circuit, also wished to congratulate Grandvalira and the organising committee for being awarded the 2019 World Cup Finals which, according to her, "are only awarded to highly prepared resorts and to countries that are fully committed to the world of snow, such as Andorra".
The competition, the show and the party
The Director of the FIS World Cup Grandvalira Andorra Soldeu El Tarter, Conrad Blanch, explained during the press conference that the FIS had carried out snow tests on the 15th of February prior to the event and that the track had passed them with flying colours. The resort's track technical services have been preparing it with great dedication since the season began.
Blanch pinpointed the main characteristics of the World Cup during the press conference. "The objective of this event -Blanch stated- is to reinforce the position of Andorra and Grandvalira as global references in the world of alpine skiing, and at the same time get the whole country involved in the event". Up to 14,000 people experienced the thrilling World Cup at the finish line in Grandvalira-Soldeu back in 2012 and similar numbers are expected for this year's events in El Tarter.
To achieve these numbers, the director of this top international event specified that "the organisation has taken care of all of the competition's elements down to the very last detail, but we have also made sure that spectators will enjoy the parties and shows that we have prepared surrounding the event".
Regarding this matter, he highlighted the laser show, the firework display and torch descent on Friday 26th of February; the public race-number draw in the Canillo ice rink on Saturday the 27th and the closing party at Bar L'Abarset in El Tarter on Sunday the 28th. Furthermore, Blanch noted that there will be stands for 1,200 spectators at the finish line area and that the magical atmosphere of the 2012 World Cup in Soldeu would repeat itself.
More than 300 volunteers will participate in the event, both on and off the ski runs, for which Blanch thanked them in advance for their contribution. Approximately 100 skiers are expected for both of the events, as well as 150 coaches and team trainers, 100 people fully dedicated to the event's organisation and almost 100 more as part of the security staff.
Among the leading skiers are the USA's Lindsey Vonn, leader of the World Cup overall standings with a total of 76 career wins (just 10 behind the legendary Ingemar Stenmark, who holds the record with 86); fellow American Mikaela Shiffrin, who enjoyed a strong return to the World Cup after her injury by winning yesterday (Feb. 15th) in the Slalom World Cup in Crans Montana (Switzerland); and France's Tessa Worley, who won the Giant Slalom in 2012 at the Avet track (Grandvalira-Soldeu) and who also enjoyed a week's training on the Àliga SG and Àliga SL tracks just a few days ago.
FAE President, Albert Coma, announced that three Andorran skiers will take part in this year's event. Mireia Gutiérrez will participate in Sunday's Alpine Combined, while Sara Ramentol and Sissi Hinterreitner will start both events.
Ski runs designed for the World Cup
The chosen runs to host the events at the Audi FIS World Cup Grandvalira 2016 are Àliga SG and Àliga SL, which from a bird's-eye view make out an X-shape, just like the Grandvalira logo. Different editions of the European Cup have taken place here in the last few years, including the European Cup Finals, but they will enjoy their baptism in alpine skiing's top competition at the end of February.
The SG event will take place on Saturday 27th of February 2016, on a track that is 2.2 kilometres long, 60 metres wide and with a vertical drop of 600 metres, with skiers expected to surpass 120 kph. in speed.
At the FIS' request, the last section of the old Àliga run, now called Àliga SL, was recovered with the objective of adapting it for the SL event in which the skills race will take place. Therefore, the Alpine Combined on Sunday the 28th will be the fusion of a SG leg and an SL one.
The event's stadium is located in the El Tarter sector of Grandvalira and its technical and speed tracks, approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS), have been adapted in recent years to guarantee the safety of skiers while still offering spectacular races.