This week is when it all comes down to the wire: it’s time for the FIS World Cup Finals at Méribel, in the French Alps. The biggest battles rage for the coveted overall globes, each made of several kilos of full lead crystal. So, how many of these precious trophies are within reach?
Starting on Wednesday, there are four more races to go for both men and ladies. Marcel Hirscher can breathe relatively easily. Unlike in the past, when Aksel Lund Svindal and Hirscher swapped top spot on a weekly basis, this year Hirscher claimed the lead in the first January contest and never let it go. He now leads the overall standings by 164 points over the other Norwegian speed specialist, Kjetil Jansrud, who has replaced the injured Svindal as his main contender for the season honours.
The chances are high that Hirscher will walk away with his fourth back-to-back World Cup crystal – a feat no one has achieved so far!
For Jansrud to have a glimmer of hope for the overall title, he must win or at least finish second in both remaining speed races. Meanwhile, Hirscher has to get shut out in the super-G and do well below his average in the two tech events this weekend.
To get into mood, Hirscher has already secured himself the smaller crystal globe, in giant slalom, but saved the partying for the weekend. He also still has the chance to land the slalom season title in the final race on Sunday.
After the final regular World Cup weekend, Alexis Pinturault and Henrik Kristoffersen are beaming, too. In Slovenia, ‘Pintu’ won the GS ahead of Hirscher, and has a great chance to finish the season in overall third place, just like last year.
Kristoffersen then capped an amazing week for himself by winning Sunday’s slalom for his third career victory – earlier the same week, he’d already written skiing history by collecting his fifth and sixth junior world titles. He could also finish the season in third place on the slalom podium, as he did last year.
Meanwhile, Lindsey Vonn is in the hunt for two more discipline titles. She skipped the final ladies tech weekend in Åre, Sweden to train in Méribel last week and get a feel for the slope that she has yet to compete on.
For Vonn, what’s on the line is a historic seventh downhill title – another all-time first in her collection of records. She could also clinch her fifth crystal globe in the super-G and tie for the World Cup record. Vonn leads both standings over Austria’s Anna Fenninger, who seems to be en route to her second overall title. Winning one or both of the speed globes would be the icing on the cake for Vonn’s incredible comeback!
Missing in Méribel is Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg who ended her season prematurely to heal a tear in the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in her left knee without surgery. After a season of strong speed skiing and a silver medal, Viktoria plans to come back stronger than ever for next year’s campaign. The same goes for Erik Guay, who decided to skip the entire season to nurture his ailing knee, to return next year even stronger than before.