The summer has come to an end and the FIS World Cup season has kicked off where it has for the last 14 years; the treacherous, up to 65% inclined pitch of Soelden, Austria. Now rejoined with the sound of spectators, the best alpine skiers in the world competed under a blue sky with the Women competing on October 23rd and the Men on October 24th.
Women’s Race: Shiffrin makes it 70.
The first women’s race of the season reminded ski racing fans of just how good Mikaela Shiffrin (USA) is. After missing the Soelden opener the prior year, Shiffrin re-established her role as the favorite on the world cup circuit by claiming an impressive 70th world cup win. While Swiss rival Lara Gut-Behrami set the fastest time in run 1, she would have to settle for silver with a total time just 0.14s behind Shiffrin. The overall Crystal Globe winner Petra Vlhova from Slovakia led the rest of the pack, rounding out the podium 1.3 seconds behind Mikaela.
Valerie Grenier led a contingency of two other young Canadians down the course, including a World Cup newcomer in Britt Richardson. Grenier showed she is back in top form and raced to her first World Cup top 10 since 2019 in Italy. Valerie came down 7th after two runs, while the other Canadians missed out on a 2nd run.
Surprise winner from 2019 Alice Robinson also showed pace with a strong first run. The young New Zealand racer would finish 11th on the day, 2.41s behind Shiffrin.
The 2017 Giant Slalom Crystal Globe winner Tessa Worley (FRA) came down 8th. Scottish skier Alex Tilley put down the 5th best second run of the group to match her individual World Cup best of 13th while Czech speed-superstar Ester Ledecka did not qualify for the 2nd run. The most notable DNF of the day was the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe winner from 2020/21. Italian Marta Bassino was the day’s first DNF after a mistake put her off the line, and out of contention. Eight other athletes would also fail to finish their first World Cup runs of the season.
Men’s Race; Marco Odermatt stakes his claim.
The excitement of the beginning of the race season did not wear off after the Women’s celebrations. The men’s giant slalom the following day brought an atmosphere of unpredictable and intensely close racing. Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt took his 5th World Cup win in style, beating out Austrian Roland Leitinger by 7 hundredths of a second. Leitinger led the pack after the first run and held the lead on Odermatt until the second interval where he fell behind. This was the first time an Austrian athlete would not win the race after leading the first run. Slovakia’s Zan Kranjec was one-tenth of a second behind Odermatt, finishing 3rd for the 5th time in his career.
2016 Youth Olympic Games champion River Radamus from Colorado skied to his first individual top 10 result at a World Cup. Radamus finished 6th, just 0.06s behind two-time Soelden winner & 2021 Overall Crystal Globe winner Alexis Pinturault from France.
The first race of the season showed a glimpse of the excitement to come. With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics less than 100 days away, the competition will be fierce as every single athlete tries to find speed before these games. The competition is close in both the Women’s and Men’s fields featuring newcomers, legends, and reigning champions. Next on the calendar, the World Cup stays in Austria for parallel slalom races in Lech/Zurs near St. Anton, November 13th & 14th. Speed specialists will also be gearing up for the start of the Super-G and Downhill world cup with the first men’s race coming November 26th and the first women’s race December 3rd, both in Lake Louise, Canada.
Full race results can be found at fis-ski.com