After several cancelations in the last few weeks for FIS Alpine World Cup events due to poor visibility or lack of snow, the women’s FIS Alpine World Cup season opener in Levi, Finland, is set to go ahead. The International Ski and Snowboard Association ‘FIS’ women’s race manager Peter Gerdol performed the final ‘snow control’ — an inspection where the snow depth and firmness are evaluated — and gave the green light for the two events in Levi last weekend. Scheduled for November 19-20, 2022, the Levi, Finland race has been a staple on the race agenda for 18 years. This year Levi will be host to two events, both women’s slalom, the most technical of the FIS Alpine events.
Levi is close to the arctic circle and thus fairly snow-proof, but the local organizing committee (short ‘LOC’) has saved more than 2 million cubic feet (60,000 cubic meters) of snow on the Levi Black ski slope from last spring, in order to ensure the race could go ahead. The resort’s snowfarming, together with dedicated snowmaking in the lead-up to the event, enabled the resort to open its training slope as early as October 7, 2022.
The Finns are known to go the extra mile to attract world-class skiers and spectators to their event and each year put on an incredible world cup event at Levi with many attractions. Levi is only 100 miles from Rovaniemi, the Santa Claus village, which attracts visitors from around the world to see Santa and his reindeer. As such, Santa will of course make a visit to Levi and the winner of the race each year wins a reindeer. US skier Mikaela Shiffrin is the proud owner of four reindeer, beaten only by Slovak racer and Olympic Gold medallist Petra Vlhová who has won five times in Levi.
If you think meeeting Santa and winning a reindeer was quirky, how about watching a World Cup race from a sauna? For the second year in a row, the Levi World Cup will offer a Finnish sauna and a hot tub from where you can watch the slalom race. Saunas are a quintessential part of Finnish culture and to celebrate this part, Levi installed a handmade sauna and a hot tub at the bottom of the course. Former FIS race skier Petri Tuomikoski and Chief of Race for the Levi World Cup said “This sauna tradition of ours was started on the banks of the Ounasjoki river in Levi in 2000 with the first European Cup. No one has ever missed it, and once October comes around, the FIS staff will start to ask if we’ve already booked the sauna. Depending on the year, in addition to the sauna, we offer them either a “bath” in the snow or a swim in an outdoor swimming area. Without an exception, all of the representatives take part in this tradition, and some even enjoy it.”
Who to watch out for:
In the start gates this weekend will be the top-ranked female slalom experts. Aside from the aforementioned slalom queens Mikaela Shiffrin and Petra Vlhová, we can expect to see Lena Dürr from Germany, who came fourth at Beijing and will be itching to redeem herself, Switzerland’s slalom hopes Michelle Gisin, Camille Rast, and Wendy Holdener, the latter of who won Olympic Bronze in Beijing and the other skier for team USA, Paula Moltzan. Other top contestants include Canada’s Laurence St. Germain, Amelia Smart, and Erin Mielzynski, Slovenia’s Ana Bucik and Andreja Slokar, Sara Hector and Anna Swenn-Larsson from Sweden and Austria’s four Katharinas: Katharina Liensberger, who won Olympic Silver in Beijing, Katharina Truppe, Katharina Huber and Katharina Gallhuber.
It certainly sounds like it will be quite the event to watch, especially in person. If you don’t happen to be anywhere near the arctic circle, make sure to catch some of the action this coming weekend on the US Ski and Snowboard Website’s live-streaming platform.