While winter is arriving in central Europe and in North America, Finland has been enjoying winter conditions for a few weeks now, and Levi will host a ladies’ and an men’s slalom this weekend. The ladies’ race will be set by Giovanni Luca Rulfi from Italy and Alois Prenn from Switzerland. On the men’s side, the coaches who will set the course have just been appointed thanks to a new rule which has the course setters drawn individually five days prior to the events instead of all together at the beginning of the season. Daniele Simoncelli and Marko Pfeifer will have the chance to set the first men’s slalom of the season.
Italy’s Daniele Simoncelli has set just one slalom run on the World Cup at the very end of last season at the World Cup Finals in Aspen. His athlete Patrick Thaler was the fastest in that second run, but the race went to Sweden’s André Myhrer. Manfred Moelgg, who finished the season in third place in the standings and podiumed in Levi last year, is probably a favourite for this race, but Simoncelli will also set for Stefano Gross, Giuliano Razzoli and Thaler.
The second run will be set by Marko Pfeifer. The Austrian coach is a well-known course setter, as he has set World Cup slalom courses six times in the past three seasons. However, an Austrian athlete has only won once when he set: back in 2013 when Mario Matt won in Val d’Isère. Last time Pfeifer set a second run was Wengen in 2017. Marcel Hirscher laid down the fastest time in the second run to earn second place, right behind Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. The young Christian Hirschbuehl also scored his career best placement, finishing in fourth place only 0.12 seconds off the podium in Wengen. Despite the absence of team leader Marcel Hirscher, there is no doubt that the young Austrians, Michael Matt, Manuel Feller, Marco Schwarz, Christian Hirschbühl and Marc Digruber, are all potential podium contenders.
Release courtesy of FIS