Top Five Fridays - February 8, 2019 // Ski Industry News
#1: Ski Racing News: Athletes Convening in Åre, Sweden for the 2019 World Championships:
This week, the world of ski racing looked slightly different. That’s because, rather than competing on the World Cup Circuit, all of the athletes on the tour (as well as those from a variety of disciplines) are competing in the World Championships in Åre, Sweden. Occurring from February 4th through February 17th, the nearly two week long event features a number of races. For the women, that includes a Super-G race, an Alpine Combined Downhill, Alpine Combined Slalom, Downhill, Alpine Team Event, Giant Slalom, and Slalom race. At present, the Super-G race has already occurred, while the remainder are slated over the remainder of the Championship event.
So, with that clarified, how did our favorite female athletes fair in the Super-G race on Tuesday? Well, it depends who you ask. For Mikaela Shiffrin, things went quite well as she earned yet another Gold Medal in the event, having secured first place by two hundredths of a second (0.02) in a race that saw the first four places separated by just .07 seconds total. Vonn, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so lucky. As you may or may not have heard already, she suffered yet another crash, catching a gate and hurtling into the fencing. While this crash didn’t cause any significant injuries, it did leave her with a pretty healthy black eye and likely a healthy dose of frustration. We’ll dive a little deeper into the current status of Lindsey Vonn in a moment here, but for now just know that things aren’t playing out quite as she’d hoped.
With just one race down and a number to go, this next week is set to be a busy one for ski racing. For the full upcoming schedule, we’ll point you directly to the World Championships website.
#2: Lindsey Vonn Announces Her Last Race and Retirement Plans:
Next up, a moment that we all knew was coming eventually: Lindsey Vonn has officially announced her retirement from competitive ski racing. The news actually broke last Friday, just after we’d published our Top Five Friday report. At that time, Lindsey stated that her plan would be to retire immediately following this week’s World Championship Downhill and Super G races, making those the official last races of her career. In an emotional post on Instagram (her preferred way of sharing news), Vonn stated, “My body is broken beyond repair and it isn't letting me have the final season I dreamed of.” While there’s much more to the story (which you should definitely read), the bottom line is that Vonn, always one to push the limits, has finally pushed her body as far as it will allow her to go.
While it’s not exactly the way that Vonn, or really anybody, expected her illustrious career to end, it’s also perfectly fitting. The champion who was never afraid of a challenge, who tried hard to persuade the FIS to allow her to race the men, and who has won the most races of any female ski racer, ever, is finally being forced to stop after finding the only limit that ever seemed to matter: her own. On that note, we’d like to say thank you, Lindsey Vonn, for what you’ve done for the sport of ski racing, for the attention you generated for the sport, and for the athletes you’ve inspired. No matter what you choose to take on next, we all trust that it will be done with the same confidence and competitiveness that you brought to the slopes.
For more on this, take a look at what the New York Times has to say.
#3: 2019 Freeride World Tour - Stop #2: Kicking Horse, BC Results and Recap:
In other ski competition news, the second stop of the Freeride World Tour occurred this week in Kicking Horse, BC. While the weather in the month or so ahead of the event left some uncertain about the quality of the course, Mother Nature eventually stepped in and provided more than enough coverage for the event to live up to its billing. On the day of, it was a bit windy and cold, but otherwise ideal course conditions. This of course, allowed athletes to comfortably compete at their highest level, and it showed. Despite being the third discipline of the day to take the course, skiers in the men’s division came out of the gates charging, with Berkeley Patterson setting the tone by tossing a 270 style drop-in moments into his run. The competition itself was packed full of action as the Kicking Horse course provided seemingly endless wind lips, cliff drops, and transfers. At the end of the day, Australia’s Craig Murray took home first, Italy’s Marcus Eder grabbed second, and Canada’s own Logan Pehota secured third. Unfortunately for fan favorite, Tanner Hall, there would be another 5 athletes between him and the podium, having finished in 9th. That said, Tanner’s run is what ultimately showed the rest of the competitors a new approach to the mountain, and showcased a massive 360 cliff drop. What it lacked, was simply volume of hits.
At present, Marcus Eder is first in the overall standings, with Craig Murray in second and Tanner Hall still holding onto 3rd. If Tanner can take what he learned about course approach and the scoring process of the FWT, it’s highly likely that he can find his way back to a podium finish when the tour heads to Austria from February 22-28th. You can check the full list of results from this week’s event here, or simply scroll down to see a replay of all four disciplines!
#4: Russian Authorities Agree to Reinvestiate Dyatlov Pass Incident:
Finally, let’s round out this week with a complete change of pace, checking in on a story that’s, well, different. Here on Chairlift Chat, we’ve mentioned the Dyatlov Pass incident a few times, perhaps most notably when we attempted to determine whether or not aliens ski. For those unfamiliar with the event, the long and short of the story is this: back in 1959, a group of 9 well versed and adventurous Russian students set off for a 16 day ski expedition through the North Ural Mountains. When the students failed to return nearly a month after they’d departed, search parties went out looking. Eventually, they came across a tent that had been slashed open, ultimately followed by the bodies of the students. Without getting too deep into any of the more morbid details, we’ll just go ahead and say that the circumstances of this incident are strange and packed with evidence that simply doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. As a result, the cause of the incident has remained unsolved ever since, with a vast array of theories existing as to what happened to the students.
This of course, brings us to this week’s news: after officially declaring the cause of death of the students as the “spontaneous power of nature” in the 1970’s, Russian officials have decided to finally reopen the case at the persistent request of the family and friends of the victims. To get the renewed investigation underway, officials will travel to Dyatlov Pass next month to re-examine the area the incident occurred, collecting new information with modern technology. Admittedly, this isn’t the type of ski news we typically highlight, but had this happened within the last five years instead of 1959, you can bet these students would’ve been on touring equipment and scoping out lines, so we’re considering it relevant. Backed by that assumption, we feel confident in the assertion that this is the ski news that matters. For more information, check out coverage from CNN here, or from VICE News here.