Top Five Fridays - February 15, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Ski Racing News: Recapping the 2019 Alpine World Skiing Championships:
Let’s jump right into things this week with a recap of the latest from Lindsey Vonn, who was undeniably the star of the week. If you checked in with us last week, then you’re aware that she’d previously decided to make the Super G and Downhill events in the 2019 FIS World Ski Racing Championships in Åre, Sweden the final two races of her career. With that declaration in place, Vonn crashed dramatically in the Super G race, resulting in a DNF (Did Not Finish) and one last chance to find her way onto a podium before closing out here career. As it turns out, Lindsey had one last feat of athleticism left in her bag of tricks, as she was able to eke out a third place finish in the Downhill race, earning her one last medal in the final race of her career. For those who’ve been following the legendary skier this season, the conclusion has to be seen as a storybook ending. For an athlete whose career was full of moments that could’ve forced a much earlier retirement, there’s no more fitting way to wrap things up than an injury plagued final season, resulting in one last medal in her last professional race. Despite not being the end to her career that Vonn had desired, it’s also entirely fitting and will serve as inspiration for athletes for years to come. While this is the last we’ll hear about Vonn’s competitive feats, we can be sure that it’s not the last we’ll hear her name in ski news. With that, we’d like to extend out congratulations to Ms. Vonn, and wish her nothing but the best of luck moving forward!
Lindsey’s story was by far the highlight of the week, but there was also plenty of other action going down at the World Championships in Åre this week as well. While there are plenty of storylines to follow, our goal here is to recap the highlights, and so we’ll stick to one of the stories we’ve been following closely all year: Mikaela Shiffrin’s well-intentioned dominance. As you might already be aware, Mikaela kicked off her 2019 World Championship campaign by winning the Super G event, before deciding to skip a pair of Alpine Combined events in favor of resting up for the slalom and giant slalom events (a decision that was questioned by some veterans of the sport). Well, by now those rest days have come and gone, as has the giant slalom race. Unfortunately for Shiffrin, her days off didn’t pay off, as tough conditions resulted in a bronze medal in the GS race. The good news for Shiffrin though, is that she still has a chance to earn one more gold as the slalom race concludes the championships this Saturday. If Mikaela can grab the gold, it will be her fourth straight slalom world title.
#2: Ski Racing News: Recapping the 2019 FIS Freestyle World Championships:
Next up in ski news: a recap of the 2019 FIS Freestyle Skiing World Championships! Before diving in, we want to quickly thank one of our readers who left a comment on last week’s recap after we failed to mention this competition series. To be quite honest, there’s quite a bit of ski news to cover this time of year, and it can be difficult to determine what our readers want to know about most. With that in mind, we highly value any feedback regarding these posts, and encourage you to let us know when you particularly liked a highlight, or when you thought we missed something. Either way, your feedback helps us curate the content that’s most interesting to you. Now, with that said, let’s take a quick look at what went down in last week’s FIS Freestyle Skiing World Championships!
For this unfamiliar with the event, here’s a quick crash course: while the FIS is typically associated with ski racing, the organization also hosts a number of other contests. Last week, their Freestyle Championships in Park City, UT hosted a number of different events, ranging from moguls and aerials, to ski Slopestyle and snowboard Superpipe. In other words, the Freestyle championship covers nearly all forms of skiing and snowboarding that aren’t your standard race format. Due to the sheer volume of events, we can’t give each one the attention that it deserves, so here’s a quick list of some of the highlights: Kelly Sildaru and Aaron Blunck both won Ski Superpipe, James Woods won Ski Slopestyle, and Fabian Boesch won Ski Big Air.
On the more traditional side of freestyle skiing, perhaps one of the most impressive highlights from the events came from Japan’s Daichi Hara as he competed for a spot in the dual moguls finals. In the semi final round, Hara’s speed got the best of him as he approached the second jump. With a head full of steam, Hara blasted off the jump, completing his first backflip well ahead of schedule. Realizing the situation, he quickly tucked for a second before ultimately landing on the upside of a mogul. Yes, you’ve read that right. Hara went so big that he was forced into a double backflip, ultimately clearing the landing zone and landing in the final mogul section. The footage, which we’ll embed below, is an absolute must see. Perhaps the most impressive element of this story though, is that after totally blowing up on impact, Hara was able to maintain his composure and ultimately took home the bronze medal in his next race.
#3: The 2019 King and Queen of Corbet's Have Been Crowned:
Next on our list of event coverage: Jackson Hole’s 2019 Kings and Queens of Corbet’s competition. Now in its second year, this unique event offers a simple, yet unique proposal: lay down the most impressive run through Jackson Hole’s iconic Corbet’s Couloir and you’ll head home with the gold. This year, the ante got upped a bit as competitors were presented with not just the iconic drop into Corbet’s Coulior, but also a selection of jumps lower down the run, providing the chance to put down a full run of tricks. As a result, this year’s contest featured even more impressive hucks than last year. While results of the competition are still being tallied and won’t be announced until the awards ceremony this Saturday, we admittedly have a few favorites. On the men’s side, Karl Fostvedt sent a massive switch cork 5 into the couloir, while Sander Hadley opted for a beautiful, massive 360 entry. For the ladies, Catie Zeliff kept things smooth with a huge launch into the chute, while Victoria Paulsen stepped things up with one of the biggest backflips of the day. Unfortunately for Victoria, she may have gone a little too big as her skis made the decision to disengage upon impact. Finally, while this most certainly is not a division, major, major props have to go out to High Fives athlete Trevor Kennison who absolutely sent the Couloir on his sit ski. While you’ll have to check in with the Jackson Hole Kings and Queens of Corbet’s website over the weekend to see the final results, we strongly recommend watching the event in the video above to see all the action, or checking out some of the highlights from social media, courtesy of Freeskier!
#4: The End of an Era: With Vonn's Retirement, U.S. Skiing's Golden Era Comes to a Close:
Finally, the competition theme stays strong this week as we round things out with a story from Associated Press writer Andrew Dampf that’s been shared widely across news platforms on the internet. In light of Lindsey Vonn’s retirement, Dampf has accurately pointed out that nearly all U.S. Ski Team athletes from a golden era that began in the early 2000’s have retired. At this year’s 2019 FIS World Championships, the U.S. was unable to enter a team for the team event, due to a lack of athletes. That stands in stark contrast to the mid 2000’s, when the U.S. Ski Team was home to the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, and Daron Rahlves. Now, the team is essentially down to Mikaela Shiffrin, who, while dominate, is currently carrying the entire weight of U.S. Skiing’s continued credibility. Truth told, there are a number of factors coming into play here, including a revised approach on how U.S. Ski Team athletes are selected, but the bottom line is that there is concern amongst some of the sports veterans that the U.S. is at risk of becoming irrelevant. Still, not all hope should be lost. As Ted Ligety points out, “You never know. Next year you could have somebody else. I was ranked 300th in the world and then the next year I was top 30.” For more on this, we highly recommend giving the story a read as it does an incredible job of detailing the changes that have occurred over the past ten years, as well as where the sport is heading and who the future torch-bearers might be. You can find it on many news outlets across the web, including the Salt Lake Tribune.