Out of an eight-team field, Switzerland followed-up their team event gold at World Championships in Are, Sweden with yet another gold in Soldeu, Andorra.
The battle for the victory came down to the wire in the Big Final, with Norway putting up a tough fight for the win against the formidable Swiss team. Switzerland was represented by Aline Danioth, Wendy Holdener, Ramon Zenhaeusern, and Daniel Yule. Norway was represented by Mina Fuerst Holtmann, Thea Louise Stjernesund, Stebasian Foss-Solevaag, and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen. Going into Yule’s match-up against Nestvold-Haugen, Switzerland had been down one to two, meaning Yule not only had to win his match-up, but he also had to lay down a fast time in order to seize the victory.
Yule did not disappoint, and in the end, the time tie-breaker decided Switzerland as the winner, and the Norwegians settled for silver. Germany bested Canada in the Small Final to take the bronze. Switzerland’s gold is their fourth since the team event has been contested at World Cup Finals, more than any other nation.
Holdener, who has been involved in all four World Cup team events, now holds the record for the most team event medals as an individual. Canada’s Erin Mielzynski laid down the fastest run for the women, whereas Zenhaeusern put down the fastest run for the men.
“I think the whole team is playing good together. We all are good to each other, we’re all a still young group. We have a lot of fun together, said Zenhaeusern told NBC prior to the race. “Everyone’s doing their own thing, but in the end, we are a team and everyone is pushing each other out of the start.”
Canada was pitted against the home country of Andorra in the only contested round prior to the Round of 8. Canada then moved on to contest Austria, winning all four rounds to move into quarterfinals. After falling to Norway, the Canadian quartet, represented by Mielzynski, Laurence St.-Germain, Benjamin Thomsen, and Trevor Philip, fell to the German team in the Small Final, finishing fourth overall. Despite finishing just off the podium, the Canadians felt happy about their performance. Early in the week, they had not expected to compete at all, until Thomsen, who specializes in the downhill, stepped into the ring to compete in parallel slalom so that Canada could participate as a team.
“Up until a few days ago we didn’t think that we would be able to race (in the team event) until Trevor (Philp) qualified for Finals and Ben graciously stepped up and offered to be our fourth,” said Mielzynski, who was part of the team that raced to silver in the team event at the 2015 World Championships in Vail, Colorado. “In the (quarter-final) heat, we beat Austria in all four races – including Ben Thomsen, our MVP. (He) stepped up to round out our tech team and that really shows what Team Canada is made of. In each round, we fought and we fought hard. We made mistakes, but we never backed down.”
Thomsen added, “It was a bit upsetting walking away with the wooden spoon today, but it shows you can’t count the Canadians out – even when they are using a downhiller in slalom.”
Unlike the Canadians, the United States once again opted to sit out the team event. Both nations had not fielded a team event quartet at World Championships in Are.
Friday’s competition was the last time that Swedish veterans, Mattias Hargin and Frida Hansdotter, will represent Sweden in the team event. Both technical veterans have been racing on the World Cup tour for fifteen years, and have both decided to retire after World Finals. Hansdotter will race in the women’s slalom on Saturday, whereas Hargin’s season has officially come to a close. In the round of eight, Sweden was matched up with Switzerland, and went two and two, until the tiebreaker decided Switzerland as the official winner.
Next up in Soldeu, the men will compete in giant slalom and women will compete in the slalom on Saturday.
For official race results, please click here.