A very successful weekend for the men in the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Val Gardena and Alta Badia.
A busy few days of alpine skiing kicked off in Italy's Val Gardena on Friday December 20, with the Men's Downhill race. Aksel Lund Svindal was looking to consolidate his place at the top of the FIS with another victory on the hill that has proved such a happy home for him in the past.
If there was ever any doubt, Svindal blew it all away by posting a time of 1:35.82, which only two other skiers - Jan Hudec of Canada and Adrien Theaux of France - were able to get within a second of.
Svindal was clearly delighted, commenting:
I’m vey happy but it was a tough race. There was a lot of action on the course today due to all the terrain.
The following day at Val Gardena, the famous Saslong was the setting for the Downhill race. Although he has had five podiums here in Italy, nobody was quite expecting Erik Guay to produce a near-perfect run to finish the day at the top of the podium, ahead of Kjetil Jansrud and Johan Clary. This is only the Canadian's second World Cup Downhill victory:
It’s incredible for me to win today, After all I have gone through this summer and knowing that I have had knee surgery only this August makes today amazing.
On Sunday the action moved to Alta Badia, where the Gran Risa promised an extremely tough challenge for the Giant Slalom racers.
Keen not to lose any ground to Svindal in the overall World Cup, Austria's Marcel Hirscher produced a dominant display; posting the fastest combined time of the day and, all importantly, winning the race in some style. He was happy to have won such a difficult event, commenting:
Its was an awesome, race, If only you knew how bad my skiing and my feeling were yesterday; I doubt anyone would ever believe I could win today.
Rising French star, Alexis Pinturault, took second place, needing a very strong performance to finish ahead of the USA's Ted Ligety.
Current World Cup standings (correct as of 23/12/2013)
Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR) - 530
Marcel Hirscher (AUT) - 435
Ted Ligety (USA) - 329