#1: FIS World Cup Ski Racing Wind Down: Top Three Prize Money Winners All Women:
Thought we were done talking about FIS ski racing for the year after last week’s recap? Well, we may have suggested as much, but guess what? It’s April Fool’s week, so think again! As it turns out, while race recaps and coverage have officially come to a close, there’s still a decent amount of ski racing news bubbling up in the aftermath of the season. Topping that list is a piece of news that we’re particularly fond of as it speaks to skiing’s continued leadership in the fight for gender equality. While other professional leagues have significant earnings differences between male and female athletes (we’re looking at you, NBA/WNBA), that’s very much not the case in the world of ski racing. That point has been proven during a number of recent seasons, but was especially true this season as the top three prize money winners were all women, as were five of the top seven. In this year’s circuit, Lara Gut-Behrami took home 485,091 Swiss Francs, or about $515,000 USD. In second place for prize money earnings was Petra Vlhova with the equivalent of $472,000 USD, and Mikaela Shiffrin came in third with just over $436,000. In fourth place in this unofficial competition, and the highest earning male athlete, was Alexis Pinturault with the equivalent of $397,000 USD. While money is without a doubt not the only thing that matters in this world, it certainly does matter at least a little bit. So, it’s on that note that we shout out not only the three female athletes who took advantage of their opportunities to cash in this winter, but also to the FIS for providing them with the opportunity to, thereby reminding the world that sports don’t have to be sexist.
In other ski racing related highlights this week, we also came across a pair of great articles that shined a light on U.S. Ski Team athlete Breezy Johnson. Despite not being one of the highest earning athletes on the tour this year, Breezy Johnson still had an incredible season, earning a number of career best finishes, including four podium finishes (the first of her career), and making almost $56,000 in prize money. In doing so, Johnson also managed to turn a number of heads, including that of Lindsey Vonn. In an article published to Outside Online just yesterday, Vonn wrote a piece in which she discussed the power of legacy, noting the impact that legendary U.S. ski racer Picabo Street had on her as a child. Following that thread from her past to the present, Vonn goes on to anoint Breezy Johsnon as the next athlete to follow in their footsteps. We won’t dive in too deep on this one, as you should really just read it yourself, but it’s safe to say that Johnson had to have been psyched to see this article published. In other Breezy Johnson news, we’ll also mention that she recently had an interview with Ski Magazine published that provides some insights into Johnson’s feelings on the recently completed season. If you’re interested in taking a look into the mind of a world class competitor, you can do so here.
#2: FIS World Cup Freestyle Season Ending Recap: Colby Stevenson Takes Home Two Globes:
In other FIS competition news, this week also saw the conclusion of the freestyle skiing circuit. Unfortunately, we didn’t find ourselves covering these events as much as we should have this year, which was due to a combination of the Freestyle circuit’s condensed season, as well as a winter that was jam packed with news related to the most unprecedented ski season in history. Still, we’re grateful to have the opportunity to recap the final event and results of the season as both were quite notable for the U.S. Men’s Team. In last week’s Slopestyle competition, U.S. athlete Colby Stevenson continued his hot streak with his second first place finish in as many stops. In this week’s event, Stevenson took advantage of a course that featured rails, jumps, and even a quarter pipe interspersed in what could be considered an atypical slopestyle layout. Unphased, and potentially even encouraged by the unique qualities of the course, Stevenson put down an absolutely flawless run that combined big spins with technical rail tricks and perfect executions. That triple threat was ultimately enough to give the American the gold medal in the event. That gold medal, as well as the one he earned a week prior and his 5th place Slopestyle finish in Stubai, Austria to start the season, all tallied up to give Stevenson the high score in both the Slopestyle and Overall Freestyle Park & Pipe, earning him two crystal globes. For Stevenson, these results meant the world to him as last year he just barely missed this level of success, finishing in second overall in Slopestyle. Also finishing strong in this week’s event was U.S. athlete Alex Hall who took home the bronze medal. While it wasn’t the year any FIS Freestyle athlete was hoping for, as 5 out of 9 previously planned stops were cancelled, the U.S. Team can at least go into the Summer happy knowing that it secured the top spot in this year’s circuit, and had a number of athletes put up respectable results over the course of the season. To learn more about last week’s event, click here. To see a full list of overall results from the season, click here. Finally, congratulations to Colby Stevenson, Alex Hall, and the whole U.S. Men’s team for putting together a heck of a season despite the circumstances!
#3: Uphill Accomplishments: Martina Valmasso Breaks 24-Hour Uphill Record, NY Man "Everests" Mt. Pisgah:
Moving on from competitive ski news, we came across a tandem of articles that highlight athletes who are more or less in competition with themselves. First on that list is the news that there’s a new world record for the most vertical feet ascended on skis by a female within 24 hours. In the 24 hour period spanning from March 21 - 22nd, Italian mountaineer and ultra running athlete Martina Valmasso accumulated a total of 17,645 meters, or 57,890 vertical feet. For comparison’s sake, Vail resort has a vertical of 3,450 feet, meaning Valmasso essentially skinned Vail 16.75 times within 24 hours. Perhaps what’s most impressive about this feat however isn’t just the sheer volume of vertical, but also the fact that in order to hit that number, Valmasso chose a particularly steep pitch that enabled her to quickly take approximately one hour long, 700m tall laps, rather than take a more gradual but longer approach which would’ve made it more difficult to break the record. Anyone that’s ever had the pleasure of uphill skiing knows how insane this accomplishment is, and will likely join us in congratulating Valmasso for her accomplishment.
In other crazy uphill skier news, we also caught an article coming out of our neighboring region this week in which local skier Alex Goff decided to celebrate his birthday by “Everesting” Mt. Pisgah, a small ski area in the Adirondacks featuring just over 300’ of vertical. Now, if the term “Everesting” is new to you, don’t be ashamed, it’s new for us too. Apparently it’s a thing some uphill athletes do in which they attempt to summit a mountain enough times to accumulate the same amount of vertical as Mount Everest: 29,032 feet. Even for our most mathematically impaired readers, the reality behind these two numbers is blatantly obvious: that’s a lot of laps. More specifically, to achieve the feat, Goff had to pack in a total of 93 laps. In practice, that also means 93 consecutive transitions, which, as any uphill skier will attest to, is absolute nightmare fuel. Perhaps even more ridiculous than the number of laps made on a barely 300’ hill, is the fact that the feat took Goff a jaw dropping 31 hours, a time in which he decided to take just one quick 20 minute nap. All told, this particular story is equal parts amusing, impressive, and downright mind blowing as there’s an element of ridiculousness to Goff’s decision, but one that’s undeniably spectacular. To give this story a full read, check in with the Adirondack Explorer.
#4: Gotcha! The Ski Industry Partakes in April Fool's Day Yet Again:
Finally, let’s round this week out with an entertaining recap of some of the ski industry’s best April Fool’s day antics. As is typically the case this time of year, the prize for best ski industry joke simply has to go to Jason Levinthal, the founder of Line skis and current owner of J Skis. Known as a perennial prankster, Levinthal’s April Fool’s jokes seem to get better by the year. During last year’s toilet paper shortage, he declared that J Skis would be repurposing the wood it had planned to use for skis, into toilet paper, saying it was the sensible thing to do. This year, the jokes got even better as he announced a breakthrough in binding technology: Velcrotek. Citing a number of benefits ranging from strength, weight savings, adjustable mount points, and even the ability to use velcro in touring mode, Levinthal committed to the bit with a nearly 4 minute video highlighting the new product. In what’s likely the biggest plot twist of this story, Velcrotek actually seems like it worked better than expected. While there’s a really strong chance Levinthal somehow reinforced the bond between ski and boot, the fact of the matter is that he was able to lay down some carves, ski switch, and even hit jumps without losing his skis. Watching the video, we can’t help but wonder… did Jason Levinthal just accidentally stumble upon something huge? Only time will tell, but for now we’d recommend watching the accompanying video, or checking this link to learn more about Velcrotek.
In other amusing ski-related April Fool’s jokes, the Freeride World Tour also got in on the fun, announcing the introduction of the Monoboarding World Tour, set to make its debut next season. While we wish the group had taken things a bit further with some entertaining media, the simple notion of big mountain Monoboarding had us cracking up. Finally, over on Newschoolers, an author writing under the username “Sklar” wrote a tongue in cheek piece declaring that X Games has finally realized that their organizers are, “Boomers who don’t know anything about skiing,” and that they will be passing next year’s judging duties onto Newschoolers forums. Clearly the bitterness from perceived poor judging during this winter’s X Games contest has not dissipated from the freeskiing community. To read the amusing piece in full, click here. Of course, if you came across any other great ski-related April Fool’s jokes, we’d love it if you left us a comment below to let us know!