The first day of spring brought another day of blue skies to the slopes of Coronet Peak as the Winter Games NZ Alpine Skiing programme shifted gears to the short quick turns of slalom for the first of two days of FIS ANC Slalom Races presented by Coronet Peak.
A shift of the course from Race Arena back to the Hurdle was made by officials to maximise the firmer snow conditions of the higher altitude terrain giving course setters the opportunity to utilise the steep pitch and natural rollers to set two fast running courses to entice athletes to open it up and charge the hill.
The challenge of managing the piste quality throughout the duration of the day called for two separate course sets for both the men’s and women’s first and second runs to ensure the best possible snow quality for the large international fields that the Winter Games NZ Alpine race series has attracted.
Today’s race proved to be a breakthrough for two time previous winner of this event Marc Rochat (France) who put paid to his lack of finishing World Cup races last season with a confidence boosting win.
“I had a rough season last year. It feels so good to put a result tougher, to put two runs together. Today will help me get World Cup starts again as I only finished one World Cup last year resulting in me dropping out of the top 30 world rankings. I needed this result today,” stated an emphatic Rochat at the finish.
Johannes Strotz (Austria) delivered a strong first run that set him up to ski into second just 0.12 seconds back from Rochat.
Winner of Tuesday’s first Super G race Armand Marchand (Austria) proved that he’s a multi-discipline skier skiing into third with a result that will see his FIS points ranking drop significantly after starting from 43rd start position in the first run.
“It was pretty rough this morning especially starting so far back in the start order,” said Marchand.
Disruption from the planned schedule saw the women’s second run delayed until after the men’s second run due to parts of the course needing to be repositioned due to variable snow depth on the left hand side of the course.
Josephine Forni (France) the joint ANC yellow bib holder skied a strong first run to lead after the first run but fell victim to a straddled gate late in the second run to join fellow yellow bib holder kiwi Piera Hudson on the DNF list opening the way for Alex Tilley (Great Britain) to score a career highlight result and end a two year run of unfinished slalom courses in winning the women’s race.
“This was a big result for me today finishing my first slalom in two years and skiing through for the win,” stated an elated Tilley.
In a day of emphatic finish celebrations, USA’s Storm Klomhaus winner of the first Giant Slalom of the Winter Games skied into second summing up her performance as, “I finished a slalom! No other words are needed. Bring on tomorrow.”
Carole Bissig (Switzerland) rounded out the women’s podium despite coming to a complete halt on the bumpy course early in the second run.
Adam Barwood (25th) and Meghan Hood (20th) were the highest placed New Zealanders.
Alpine Ski Racing concludes tomorrow at Coronet Peak with the final Slalom event on Monday 2nd September.
The complete Alpine Ski Racing schedule can be viewed at https://wintergamesnz.kiwi/sports/alpine/
Full results from the Alpine Ski Racing Giant Slalom events can be found at https://vola-publish.com/snowsportsnz/