In the final World Cup tech event before the Olympics next month in PyeongChang, South Korea, the fastest men’s and women’s slalom skiers descended on Stockholm, Sweden, to battle it out underneath the lights for the second city event of the season.
Notably absent from the start list was American Mikaela Shiffrin, who elected to skip the Stockholm event in favor of rest and training before flying to Korea. France’s Alexis Pinturault also skipped the event for similar reasons.
At the conclusion of the fast and furious event that saw exciting racing and a few strokes of bad luck by some of the top racers, Norway’s Nina Haver-Loeseth and Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhaeusern walked away with their first wins of the season. It was also the first win or podium of Zenhaeusern’s career.
“I’ve had a tough season so for me to get a little confidence boost before I go to Korea is a nice feeling,” said Haver-Loeseth. “I needed this and I’m going to cherish this little extra confidence as long as I can and hopefully just continue to start letting go a little bit more and push the gas.”
Haver-Loeseth beat out Swiss star Wendy Holdener in the final after Holdener flew too far off of a mid-course jump and nearly spun out of the course. It was an unexpected end to the final as Holdener had led the Norwegian comfortably until her untimely error.
“I’m not sure,” Holdener recounted. “I think I had a big speed and I just jumped too far and it was too much so I had to brake and was lucky to stay in the course. Big mistake.”
In the small final, Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova defeated Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter to take third place.
The men’s race was equally as surprising as the tall Zenhaeusern took on and defeated the almost-as-tall Andre Myhrer of Sweden in the finals with the Swedish crowd fully backing his rival.
“It’s crazy,” Zenhaeusern said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve always skied to win a World Cup race. It’s amazing and I think not too many people would have thought that I will achieve that, it’s unbelievably crazy. It’s my first city event participation and first win. I trained (parallel) once after Schladming last week and yesterday so twice I’ve trained it.”
With Zenhaeusern’s relative newcomer status to the World Cup compared to Myhrer, who is a well-established veteran on the circuit, the Swiss shared a moment with the press following the race that will bring a smile to many of the Swede’s fans.
“Myhrer was always my idol because he’s also tall like me,” he shared. “Seven or eight years ago he trained in the same place as me and my father. I was too shy to say hello to him. It’s a funny story that seven years after I ski against him. I’m not shy anymore!”
In the men’s small final, Germany’s Linus Strasser, who won this event last year, defeated Switzerland’s Luca Aerni for third place.
The World Cup now heads to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for women’s downhill racing Feb. 3-4 for the final races before the Olympic break.
Top Four Women
- Nina Haver-Loeseth (NOR) – Rossignol/Lange/Look
- Wendy Holdener (SUI) – Head/Head/Head
- Petra Vlhova (SVK) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Frida Hansdotter (SWE) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
Top Four Men
- Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Andre Myhrer (SWE) – Head/Head/Head
- Linus Strasser (GER) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Luca Aerni (SUI) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
Official Women’s Results
Official Men’s Results