Germany, France Aim High In Olympic Season
The German and French Ski Federations announced their 2017-2018 alpine team picks late last week. The Germans are boasting 34 women and 51 men making the cut across all teams and training groups while the French have named 36 women and 45 men to its rosters. With such large teams, the two European powers are no doubt banking on strength in numbers heading into the 2018 Olympic season.
Headlined by World Cup stars and veterans Felix Neureuther and Viktoria Rebensburg, the rest of the German team will look toward continued development on the World Cup this coming year.
One athlete that turned more than a few heads last season for the Germans was 24-year-old Munich native Linus Strasser. Strasser started the year ranked well outside of the top 30 in World Cup slalom; but thanks to consistent results throughout the year, he managed to end the season ranked 23rd in the world after claiming his maiden World Cup win in the parallel event in Stockholm, Sweden, on Jan. 31.
Strasser’s success, although perhaps a surprise to some, was less of surprise to his closest competitors who threw his name around as one to watch in finish-line and training conversations prior to his breakout year.
“It’s unbelievable, you know?” Strasser said after his win in Stockholm. “The whole thing is like – I really don’t find any words for this. I’ve tried to get a pretty solid season, and it’s worked out pretty good. Now, I just want to go on with it.”
With team parallel debuting as a medal event at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, look for Strasser to make another splash for team Germany in Korea.
Also of note is the expected return of 29-year-old tech specialist Fritz Dopfer after suffering a broken leg in a training crash last November. Although Dopfer’s season ended before it really began after only two World Cup starts, the tall German has a solid World Cup résumé that includes a slalom silver medal from the 2015 World Championships as well as nine other World Cup podiums in slalom and giant slalom.
The French, on the other hand, have enjoyed dominating performances over the last few seasons from veteran and reigning world champion and World Cup women’s GS title holder Tessa Worley, as well as a men’s GS team that at one point last season had four athletes ranked inside of the top seven in the world.
Worley, despite her rather diminutive appearance, used superior technique and a go-for-broke style to command the women’s GS circuit last season en route to her second career World Championship title and first World Cup crystal globe.
“I mean this season, like I said, it was kind of a dream,” Worley said after collecting her World Cup title in Aspen. “Everything went so well. We worked really hard, but now I have it and the whole team has it, so I’m just really, really proud. There were some tough moments, but I made it, so I’m so happy.”
For the men, headliner Alexis Pinturault managed to eclipse the legendary Jean-Claude Killy to become the winningest French skier of all time after taking his 19th World Cup win in the Adelboden GS on Jan. 7.
“Jean-Claude remains Jean-Claude, he’s a giant,” Pinturault said after his record-breaking victory. “Perhaps I passed his number of victories, but he is such a legend.”
Although Pinturault managed to set a new record for the French last season, the star stumbled some in the latter half of the winter after failing to medal at World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and letting the GS title slip away with a string of inconsistent skiing to close out his season.
There is no doubt that the French team has high hopes in GS heading into PyeongChang with Worley and the entire men’s squad all emerging as strong medal contenders.
The full German roster can be found here.
The French women’s roster can be found here.
The French men’s roster can be found here.