Alta Badia, a classic stop on the men’s World Cup circuit, known for the steep and technical pitch of the Gran Risa, and forcing the top giant slalom skiers of the World Cup to execute their prettiest GS turns, fell a bit short on Sunday. Under tough conditions, a track that typically showcases some of the best technical giant slalom on the World Cup forced the athletes to get gritty and fight harder for the win.
Sunday’s race was not about skiing clean. According to American Ryan Cochran-Seigle, it wasn’t really a feel-good day for anyone. Who would end the day on the podium was a matter of who could start their turn above the crud and bumpy snow, and stay above the crud and bumpy snow.
“There was a lot of precipitation the past few days, and they never had a window to prep the hill until about 4:30 [Saturday],” says Cochran-Seigle. “Skiing it, it felt like it just broke in places by the time I ran. [Aleksander] Kilde was able to ski well in the first run, coming down after me and finishing in fifth. So it was definitely doable you just had to pressure a lot of the turn above the turn so you could ski through any kind of rumble.”
“We woke up and it started dumping,” says USA’s Tommy Ford. “They were able to inject a little bit last night, and it felt like it was going to be pretty good after inspection, but it turns out it rotted and the snow was pretty crummy. Hard to finish turns and really keep a clean edge. It was a rattle ride both runs. I ran early first run and was still bouncing around. But we’re gonna work through this and see what we can learn from these conditions.”
Ford ended the day in 20th after finishing in 14th the first run, just behind his teammate Cochran-Seigle who finished 19th overall, but even the men who finished on top felt like the conditions were enough to reconsider holding a race on Sunday.
Henrik Kristoffersen is, of course, happy to have won his first giant slalom of the season. He led the charge for the attacking Vikings, earning his first giant slalom win of the 2019/20 season and putting him back in the lead in the race for the overall crystal globe. Kristoffersen also regained possession of the red bib, which he now has in both slalom and giant slalom. His teammates, Kilde, Rasmus Windingstad, Lucas Braathen, and Leif Nestvold-Haugen finished fourth, seventh, eighth, and 11th respectively. Although Kristoffersen and his teammates had success on Sunday, Kristoffersen noted in the post-race press conference that he was sure if holding the race was in the best interest of the athletes given the weather conditions.
“It’s really on the limit if it should be okay to ski a race like this,” says Kristoffersen. “I don’t really blame the people of Alta Badia because they are doing what they are told from FIS, maybe someone with a little more experience should have come in and done something. Maybe it was a fair race, but it was an ugly race because everyone skied ugly.”
As mentioned by Cochran-Seigle, multiple men were capable of punching into the top 10 after a late start by having a strategy in place to handle the difficult conditions. France’s Cyprien Sarrazin, who had not been on a World Cup podium since winning the Alta Badia parallel giant slalom in 2016, landed on the podium in second after laying down the fastest second run of the day. His final time was just 0.31 off Kristoffersen’s winning time.
Sarrazin has been struggling to come back from a spinal injury received in November of 2018. To end up on the podium on Sunday was a bit of a surprise, but Sarrazin sent all of the credit to his team for sticking with him and believing in his comeback during this tough time.
Alexis Pinturault once again fell farther back in the top 10 than he would like as he fights for the overall and giant slalom title. Kristoffersen’s win put him just four points ahead of the Frenchman in the giant slalom standings and 47 points ahead in the overall standings.
Despite finishing in fifth place, Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt appeared to have injured his knee as he stopped in the finish after his second run. According to a Swiss Ski Team statement, Odermatt’s knee was struck by a gate as he approached the finish line. He has returned to Switzerland for further evaluation and no updates on his condition have been given as of Sunday evening.
On Monday the men will compete in the parallel giant slalom at Alta Badia, in a race that organizers say should be better prepared than Sunday’s giant slalom.
- 1. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR): 1:57.33 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- 2. Cyprien Sarrazin (FRA): +0.31 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- 3, Zan Kranjec (SLO): +0.39 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- 4, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR): +0.46 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- 5. Marco Odermatt (SUI): +0.83 – Stoeckli/Salomon
- 6. Marco Schwarz (AUT): +0.88 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- 7. Rasmus Windingstad (NOR): +0.91 – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- 8. Lucas Braathen (NOR): +0.92 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- 8. Alexis Pinturault (FRA): +0.92 – Head/Head/Head
- 10. Filip Zubcic (CRO): +1.00 – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
For full race results, click here.