Alpine Ski World Cup Finals at Schladming
The 2011/2012 Alpine Ski World Cup season ended last week (Wednesday - Sunday, 14 - 18 March 2012) at Schladming.
Schladming, a typical Austrian slalom temple, this year hosted the finals of the Alpine Ski World Cup - a type of general test before the Alpine Ski World Championships scheduled for February 2013 in the small Styria community. The event was a huge success: looking at spectators alone, over 50,000 people came during the week to watch. Traditionally, only the top 25 in each discipline can participate in each specialty race, in addition to those who reach 500 points in the overall Cup classification as well as the Junior champions.
In preparation for the 2013 World Championships, Schladming built an 8-passenger gondola in 2010, capable of transporting 3,200 people an hour. The old valley station in Planai, in the center of Schladming, was replaced by the impressive "Planet Planai" building destined to become the emblem of the 2013 Alpine World Ski Championships.
Given the unseasonable temperatures recorded at the end of this week and given the small amount of snow on the slopes, without technical snow and snow-making systems, these races would certainly not have been run. TechnoAlpin, once more, took care of guaranteeing snow this year. There are now more than 100 active snow guns on the Planai:
- 99 tower-mounted fan guns
- 18 mobile fan guns
- 23 A lances
Two downhill races started these 5 days of the World Cup finals. The Norwegian, Aksel Lund Svindal, won in the men's field. But it was the local hero, the Austrian Klaus Kröll who celebrated; despite a seventh place finish in the race, he managed to win the specialty cup.
The American, Lindsey Vonn gave her best again, winning the last downhill of the season and thus earning, with 5 races still to go, the overall World Cup reaching 2000 points.
In the Men's Super Slalom, the Italian Christoph Innerhoder closed a difficult season beautifully. The specialty cup was won by the Norwegian, Aksel Lund Svindal. The German, Viktoria Rebensburg, was the surprise in the women's field, winning the last specialty race, while the crystal cup was won by the unstoppable Lindsey Vonn.
The Team event was held on the third day and won by the home team, Austria, which earned the €100,000 prize for the competition.
The last women's slalom of the World Cup was won by the Austrian, Michaela Kirchgasser, her second season success. The specialty cup went to the other Austrian, Marlies Schild.
In the Giant Slalom, the men's podium was entirely Austrian: the young Marcel Hirscher, won the race as well as the specialty cup, followed by his countrymen Hannes Riechelt and Marcel Mathis. In the general classification, Hirscher managed to beat the Swiss Feuz, earning the World Cup.
Sunday and the Swede Andre Mayrher was the star in the Slalom. After 21 years, he managed to win a specialty cup for his country by winning the last slalom of the season, beating Kostelic and Hirscher.
Viktoria Rebensburg demolished the last Giant Slalom race and took home the cup.
Another star of the Schladming weekend was without a doubt the Swiss, Didier Cuche who, after 19 World Cup seasons, bid farewell to the skiing world by coming down the slopes of the Planai in period costume (wooden skis, cloth cap and backpack on his shoulders).
The skiers haven't started their holidays: this weekend, national championships will be held in almost every country. Only then can the athletes leave for their well-earned holidays, moving with their teams to their various retreats to prepare for the 2012/2013 season.