ARE, SWE, 16 MAR 2013 – It was one of the biggest single days of the 2012-13 season for the FIS Freestyle World Cup tour in Are, Sweden, on Saturday, with both Audi ski cross and dual moguls events scheduled for the same day at the same resort.
Things kicked off in the morning under brilliant blue skies and some bracing temperatures with the early-starting ski cross finals, the first of back-to-back ski cross competitions set for the weekend.
The ladies' final got underway without ski cross overall leader Fanny Smith (SUI) not in the running, as she missed a gate in Friday's qualifications and failed to make it through to Saturday's competition. With her absence, an opportunity opened for some of the other ladies - most notably Ophelie David (FRA) – to make up some ground on the charismatic young Swiss skier.
Unfortunately for David, she got stuck in a tough quarter final heat with 2nd overall qualifier Alizee Baron (FRA), the resurgent Heidi Zacher (GER), and eventual winner on the day Anna Woerner (GER), and David was not able to advance beyond the round or gain any significant ground on Smith.
Instead, the German duo of Woerner and Zacher made it through both the quarter and semi-finals together, into a big final that was rounded out by the incredibly consistent Marielle Berger (FRA), and a skier who has showed all kinds of promise without much success in the 2012-13 seaosn, Karolina Riemen (POL).
In the final it looked like Woerner and Zacher would be able to run the same game as they had through their first two heats, with Woerner shooting out to the lead from the start and Zacher tailing closely behind her. However, one tumultuous corner changed the whole make-up of the race, as the big negative turn saw Zacher lay it down onto her hip, Riemen ease up in response, and Berger shoot into second place from 4th.
And that's how the ladies' would end up, with Woerner claiming the second win of her comeback season, Berger taking 2nd for the second podium of both her season and her career, and Riemen finally cashing in on some strong skiing to claim her first career podium, in 3rd.
The men's final was a lively affair, with several athletes walking away from some big crashes, some controversial passing, and a big final that featured rising Swedish hero Victor Oehling Norberg matched up against World Cup leader Alex Fiva (USA), World Champion Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA), and smooth Joe Swensson (USA).
As he had done all day, Fiva shot to the front of the pack from the start, with Oehling Norberg hot on his heels. Oehling Norberg had looked determined to secure a win for the hometown all day, and went for a tricky pass near the top of the course when a small opportunity seemed to present itself. Fiva, however, was able to slam the door on the young Swede and then pull away when Oehling Norberg was forced to brake, holding on to the lead through the rest of the fast course to secure his third win of the season.
While Fiva and Oehling Norberg battled out in front, the world champion Chapuis was able to slide into 3rd when Swensson lost a ski in the middle of the course to capture his second World Cup podium of the season.
In the overall races things are still looking good for the Swiss team. With his win, Fiva moves well ahead of teammate Armin Niederer, now sitting 140 points up with only two races remaining. On the ladies' side, Fanny Smith maintains a narrow lead over Ophelie David, sitting a mere 34 points ahead. With a good showing tomorrow Fiva can lock down the ski cross Crystal Globe, while Smith will need a big result to earn some breathing room.
WOERNER Anna (GER) - “The start was very important today. I managed to get out front in my heats and the course wasn't so good for passing. The turns were very bumpy and you can get into some trouble trying to make passes, so I just made sure to get in front and stay there.”
FIVA Alex (SUI) - “I've had a good season. I made a little mistake in World Champs, but now I'm back and I've got another important win for the overall title. But it's not over yet. There's still two races, and tomorrow's going to be a tough race for me because it was challenging today. But we'll see tomorrow.”
“I did some good starts and I closed the door at the right moments so they couldn't pass me. But here you have such hard turns, you can do one mistake and it's over. So you gotta just keep on going.”
OEHLING NORBERG Victor (SWE) - “It's crazy, an amazing feeling to be on the podium at home in Sweden. It's actually almost the same feeling as when I won in Sochi. My whole family and my friends are watching and I'm so happy.”
“I was really fast in the start today, but he (Fiva) was even faster. I tried to beat him on that inside corner but he cut me off pretty good. He's skiing good right now. But just being on the podium is worth a win today.”
Full ladies' results can be found here.
Ladies' race video can be found here.
Full men's results can be found here.
Men's race video can be found here.
The ski cross overall leaderboard can be seen here.