Switzerland beats Norway in an exciting end to the Alpine Team Event
Germany defeats Canada in the Parallel Giant Slalom on the slopes of El Tarter to complete the podium
Andorra did not qualify for the quarter-finals despite the victory of Mireia Gutiérrez on one of the runs
The organising committee praises the “fabulous” condition of the Àliga course throughout the five days of event
The Alpine Team Event, held on Friday on the Àliga course in Grandvalira's El Tarter sector, ended with the Swiss national anthem. The mountain nation carried off the victory in a competition which saw it pip Norway in the Finals of the World Cup. The format for the competition was Parallel Giant Slalom with a course that included 25 gates and 66 metres of descent, which the skiers raced in less than 23 seconds.
The Scandinavians struck first winning the first two runs: Thea Louise Stjernesund beat Aline Danioth, and Kristian Leif Nestvold beat Ramon Zenhaeusern. But the Swiss Wendy Holdener was faster than Mina Fuerst and the knock-out blow was delivered by Daniel Yule defeating Sebastian Foss-Solevaag, who skied half the course with only one pole. The 2-all draw went to the Swiss on time.
Holdener attributed the victory to “teamwork” and praised both the good condition of the Àliga course with “perfect snow” and the good temperatures, especially given recent bad weather.
Before the grand final, the race for third and fourth place was won by Germany, squeezing out Canada. It was nail-biting stuff right to the end. In case of a draw, the winner would be decided by the best overall time, but there had to be a fifth run because in the first run the two skiers (Erin Mielzynski for Canada and Christina Geiger for Germany) crossed the line with exactly the same time.
With their victory Switzerland has now won four Alpine Team Events (an event that is in the programme at the World Championships and the Olympic Games) at Finals of the World Cup , so becoming the most successful country in the event. They lead Austria with three victories and Switzerland and Germany with two each.
Switzerland maintains its dominance in this discipline, as it also won the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang and the last World Championships in Åre in 2019.
Mireia Gutiérrez 'strikes fear' in the Canadians
The Alpine Team Event opened with an preliminary round of 16 teams in which Andorra, the host country, faced Canada, who eventually finished fourth. The Andorra team 'struck fear' into the Canadians, according to the skier Àlex Rius on finishing the race. The reason: victory by Mireia Gutiérrez over Laurence St-Germain. She was 12 hundredths ahead in a thrilling close finish. The Andorran started third in the race.
Before her were Sissi Hinterreitner, who finished 1.22 behind Erin Mielzynski, and Axel Esteve, who went all out but fell in the tussle with Philip Trevor.
Gutiérrez's victory opened up the elimination round, so all eyes were on Rius, in the fourth and final start. The young skier started out strongly and was close to winning, but a mistake in the last gate ended his chances against Benjamin Thomsen. Victory escaped them and Canada eventually won 3-1.
After the race, Gutiérrez explained that he'd started badly but had pushed himself to 'the limit', slowly recovering and finally ending up victorious. At team level, she said this was a discipline they had not been able to train much for but, in her opinion 'we deserved to qualify'.
The organisation calls the days of competition in Àliga 'unforgettable'
The World Cup Organising Committee described the five days on the Àliga slope in the El Tarter sector of Grandvalira as 'unforgettable'. The logistics manager, Ton Naudi, drew special attention to the good weather conditions and the fact that the slope 'held up magnificently'.
'People can't stop congratulating the organisation on the state of the snow' and the service provided in the competitors' rooms, which Naudi attributed to the volunteers and workers at the ski resort, who have had to work twice as hard, especially the team of machine operators. Ton Naudi also highlighted the large numbers of spectators during the week, a fact that 'marked the difference with the World Cup races in 2012 and 2016'. As yesterday, this Friday the show moved 3,000 people.
For the coming weekend, Thursday sees the transfer of the cameras to the Avet slope in Soldeu by helicopter, while everything else will be transported and the arrival zone finalised on Friday. The slope is in 'fantastic condition', but will undoubtedly require injecting to absorb moisture, as the forecast is for higher temperatures.
Excitement in the women's Giant Slalom
After five days on the Àliga slope, this weekend the action moves to Soldeu, and the iconic Avet slope, which this year has a new arrival area, after construction of a skiable platform over the river. Avet will host the two technical disciplines (Slalom and Giant Slalom), with two legs each. Saturdays is the men's Giant and women's Slalom, while Sunday sees the women's Giant and the men's Slalom.
In the technical disciplines, the crystal globes are pretty much all decided and the excitement will focus on the women's Giant. In the men's races, the invincible Marcel Hirscher is already assured of the two victories and the big crystal globe for the overall classification. It will be his sixth World Cup title in Slalom and also Giant, and he'll be raising his 20th big crystal globe as overall World Cup champion.
By contrast, in the women's competition, Mikaela Shiffrin is already assured of the Crystal Globe in Slalom; in Giant, the Slovak Petra Vlhová could still beat her to the title. Since on Thursday she won the World Cup Super-G and she also won the Crystal Globe for being the highest-ranked skier of the season, Shiffrin could become the third skier in history to win four World Cup titles in one season, joining Lindsey Vonn and Tina Maze.
Download images from the day here: http://bit.ly/ALPINETEAMEVENT_WCF19