Switzerland Claims WJC Team Gold
On Saturday night, the team event was held in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Junior Championships. In what is possibly the most exciting competition of the series, Switzerland took the title followed by Norway and Austria in second and third, respectively.
Having been around for several years and gaining more and more traction on the world stage, the format of the team event is great for fans who come to the race slope. A short venue that is entirely visible to the audience and head-to-head racing is easy to watch and follow for fans. The team event is also the most cheerful event for athletes as it is the only time that men and women compete together. Throughout most of the season, men and women are not even at the same venues. The team spirit and national pride cannot be higher than in the team event.
16 nations started in the team event in Davos. All rounds were knockout rounds where four athletes of two women and two men would race for each team with the fastest nation advancing. After advancing through the first round, Austria faced Slovenia, the USA took on Norway, Italy battled Canada, and Germany dueled Switzerland in the quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for the Americans, the USA lost in the quarterfinals to Norway. “Norway was stronger today, and I think we need more practice for this format,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Development Director Chip Knight.
Knight explained that the most crucial component to this format where racing only takes about 20 seconds is – just like in the city events on World Cup – the start. And according to Knight, racing against an opponent right next to you is also a different mental challenge for the athletes.
According to Knight, this is why U.S. Ski & Snowboard would like to add a team event to the U.S. Alpine Championships in the future. Considering that the team event is also a medal event at both the World Championships and Olympics, it only makes sense to start taking this format seriously. At the moment, there is only a team event contested at the U16 nationals.
Nevertheless, Knight was satisfied with Saturday’s result for the American team because in the past years the U.S. team had never moved up from round one and into the quarterfinals.
In the semis, Norway made its way to the final by defeating Austria and sending them into the race for 3rd place against Italy.
Italy defeated Canada in their quarterfinal round. The analysis of Canada’s loss by women’s development team coach Marie-Eve Boulianne was similar to Knight’s analysis about the American team.
“The Italians were better today,” said Boulianne. “You need the right technique, the right tempo, and coordination to generate the maximum momentum in the first turns.”
Switzerland won its semifinal against Italy and then took down the Attacking Vikings in the final. Italy was defeated in the race for third place against Austria. With Saturday night’s victory, Switzerland holds the lead in the medal table as they now have three gold medals as well as increasing their lead in the team standings for the Marc Hodler trophy with 55 points to Austria’s 41, which is given to the best nation at the end of the Championships.
On Sunday, the hunt for medals will continue with the women’s super-G and men’s alpine combined.