The first big racing weekend of the season is upon us. With six different races over three days, the best skiers in the world are in full force this weekend. The men’s speed world cup kicks off in Lake Louise, Canada, with a Super G and two Downhill events. The women’s tech series continues in Killington, Vermont, with a slalom and a giant slalom. Outside of North America, the FIS Ski Cross world cup kicks off with the 2022 Olympic test event in Secret Garden, China.
The Lake Louise world cups have traditionally kicked off the men’s and women’s speed series for years and is one of few venues where both the men and the women race the same track. The event starts with the men’s race, a weekend of speed that has been dominated by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway or the Austrian Ski Team as a whole. Bode Miller is the only American man to have won events in Lake Louise. Accounting for two of the US Ski Team’s 25 Lake Louise wins, Miller won both the Super-G and the Downhill in November 2004. After training runs, it seems that the American speed team is coming into these races strong. Travis Ganong from California posted the 3rd fastest time in the first training run, and Vermont’s Ryan Cochran-Siegle was 4th in the second run. The Norwegian team also presents a strong contingency with two athletes in the top 5 on training day one and Aleksander Aamond Kilde going fastest in the second training run. Expect strong races from Max Franz from Austria (who won the first training day), Kjetil Jansrud from Norway, and fan-favorite Dominik Paris from Italy. The Lake Louise Downhills run on the 26th & 27th, with the Super-G on the 28th.
Killington, Vermont, is a stronghold for American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin. The Colorado native has podiumed at 6 of the 8 World Cups she’s raced in at Killington and considers the venue a second home. Shiffrin is undefeated in the Killington Slalom and will look to break the Overall Cup tie with Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova. Marta Bassino (ITA), Fredrica Brignone (ITA), Viktoria Rebensberg (GER) and Tessa Worley (FRA) have a win a piece in the Giant Slalom at Killington. Fresh off a dominating NorAm win, expect the 2020 overall crystal globe winner Brignone to match pace with Shiffrin and Vlhova. The Killington races run with the Giant Slalom on the 27th and the Slalom on the 28th.
The Ski Cross world cup began in 2002 and introduced its exciting head-to-head racing to the world. Coming into its fourth Olympic season, the intensity behind the Ski Cross world cup has never been greater. The Ski Cross world cup begins this weekend on a brand new track in Secret Garden, China. This world cup acts as a test event for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games hosted in February. The US has a history in men’s ski cross, with now-retired Californian John Teller having three world cup wins to his name and X-Games gold in 2011 and World Championships bronze in 2013. The typical American frontrunner on the Ski Cross world cup circuit is Tyler Wallasch, who also hails from California. Wallasch won the 2015 World Junior Championships in Italy and has been knocking at the door of his first world cup podium for a couple of seasons. While Tyler is one of a few notable absences from this World Cup opener, the US team finds representation in Colorado native Brant Crossan, who holds a World Cup personal best of 5th.
The Swiss, French, and Canadian teams tend to be the dominant force on the Ski Cross world cup. The three countries won 65% of the World Cup heats throughout the 2020/21 season, and each has its fair share of Olympic medals. Canadian Reece Howden and Swiss Fanny Smith won their respective Crystal Globes with style last year and will be looking for more dominance this year. A look at the track from 2018 Olympic Champion Brady Leman’s Instagram shows a venue with an even balance of technical features, alpine turns, and flow-based elements. Expect a tight race on the men’s side, with strong showings from a large Canadian team. On the women’s side, the race will most likely boil down to a shootout between reigning crystal globe winner Fanny Smith and Swedish superstar Sandra Naeslund with the possibility of a French and/or Canadian wildcard on the podium as well. The first Ski Cross World Cup of the season kicks off on the 27th, but due to the time change, it will be occurring late on the night of the 26th.
Full results & schedules can be found at fis-ski.com