While the surge of coronavirus has canceled World Cup Finals, the races are carrying on in Narvik, Norway with the FIS Alpine World Junior Championships. The opening ceremony brought in a wonderful performance and cheering athletes that were amped up to go fast. On the hill, the athletes kicked off the series with two downhill training runs, that prepared them for the downhill race today. Magdalena Egger of Austria and Alexis Monney of Switzerland reigned in gold medals for the women and men’s downhill Saturday.
World Junior Championships is an honor and a tremendous goal for these athletes. The far-northern Norwegian town of Narvik has been excited to get back on the organizer map for the championship. The manager of the Narvik Alpine Club, John Christian Eriksson was extremely motivated to host this top junior event and made it clear that this has been an exhilarating event for Narvik Alpine Club to host.
“On behalf of the club it is very exciting to have been selected to host the Junior World Cup in 2020,” Eriksson. “This will be a test in relation to a potential World Cup in Narvik, and I am sure the club and everyone involved will again show that we can hold such championships at a particularly high level. It is motivating for the club to be central to this process, and we will do everything we can to ensure that this event is also noticed beyond the limits.”
Monica Zanoner of Italy said, “The opening ceremony was awesome! Italy brought the FIS Flag and it was incredible! The singer put on a beautiful show and the whole ceremony was really good,” she continued, “I want to say thank you to all the volunteers who made this race possible!”
Katie Twible, a coach of the Women’s U.S. Ski Team noted, “There are probably over 400 volunteers up here and they are working so hard to put on a great event. It is really great to see. The opening ceremony was awesome.”
The weather started out with good conditions for the first DH training run. The second training run brought in some new snow, which changed the variables. Saturday the weather brought in subpar conditions that challenged visibility and changed the course.
“We had to run the DH race from a lowered start today because of new snow, wind, and fog,” Chip Knight, Development Director of the U.S. Ski Team said.
Zanoner (ITA) stated that due to the volunteers, “over the three days the conditions of the track didn’t change a lot. It snowed a lot, but the slope was perfect anyway.”
The women weathered the variables first this morning with the Austrians taking the lead. Magdalena Egger of Austria skated out of the start gate wearing bib-2. She laid down the fastest run that proved hard to beat, with a time of 1:03.87. Egger’s compatriot, Lisa Grill wore bib-7 and was gunning to surpass Egger’s time. She tucked across the finish, just 0.09 behind Egger’s leading time. Rounding out the podium was Monica Zanoner (ITA), coming across the line 0.66 behind Egger.
This is Egger’s second appearance at Junior World’s, Grill’s third appearance and Zanoner’s first.
Zanoner said, “I only thought about skiing as fast as I could and giving my best, that’s all!”
For the U.S. Women’s Team, Chip Knight told Ski Racing Media, “Keely Cashman had a solid day, finishing in eighth place. AJ Hurt skied fast out of the start and at the bottom of the course, but she made a big mistake that cost her a top finish. In general, most of our athletes had difficulty with the terrain on the upper part of the course and weren’t able to ski the line we inspected.”
For the men’s field, Switzerland brought home the gold with Alexis Monney, wearing bib-11, tucking into the finish corral 0.17 in front of the field. Italian, Simon Talacci made a tremendous leap from bib-25 to the second-place position with a time of 1:02.55. Skiing into the bronze medal position was another Austrian, Stefan Rieser. Rieser finished with a time, 0.23 behind Monney’s winning time.
For Monney, this is his first appearance at Junior World Championships and his fourth win of the season. This is also Tilocci’s first appearance and Rieser’s second.
Rieser said, “the difference between the two appearances is that this year I went into the race to win it. Last year it would have been a surprise if I ended up in the top three, but this year I and a lot of other people were not expecting anything else.”
“It felt pretty good except a little mistake in the middle. After that I thought ‘all or nothing’ and had good speed into the finish,” Reiser reflected.
The men’s U.S. Ski Team also had some challenges with the line and difficulties at the top of the course. However, all four came across the finish line in the top-30. Jack Smith (USA) led the U.S. men with a 25th-place finish. Bradshaw Underhill, finished 27th, Bridger Gile 28th, and Isaiah Nelson ended in thirtieth.
Tomorrow the athletes, both men, and women will be revving up again to compete in the super-G on the same hill.
Chip Knight said, “We’ll work to clean that up (upper part of the course and the line inspected) and ski more fluidly in the SG tomorrow!”
Rieser said, “Tomorrow for the super-G, I want to just let the skis run and not think too much about the ideal line.”
Stay tuned for more Junior World Championship action!