Red Bull SuperSkicross was the winter season sign-off we all wanted to see
With spectacular jumps, thrilling duels and a true photo finish, the first Red Bull Superskicross delivered everything it promised and more.
Perfect spring weather, fantastic Swiss Alps scenery and probably the most spectacular track ski-cross has ever seen: Red Bull SuperSkicross was absolutely the finale this winter season deserved and even if local hero Fanny Smith couldn't quite deliver the win in the end, the smile on her face betrayed how much fun this event truly was.
Check out the next-level course and ski-cross racing delivered by Red Bull SuperSkicross in the highlights video above and then read on to discover the six big take aways from this spectacular season-ender.
1. Full speed from the first second
The day had barely even started when it got down to business on the track, with the athletes going flat out in the time trials to try and secure the best start positions for the heats.
Two all-time greats met in the women's time trials, as Fanny Smith lined up the track next to French legend Ophélie David, who ended her active racing career in 2017. Together they brought 55 World Cup victories to the course and even if David is no longer at the top of the sport, just to see them going head-to-head was a sensation.
Among the men, the French presented a strong front in the time trials, with Bastien Midol slightly faster than Youri Duplessis Kergomard. Germany's Tim Hronek and Swiss Jonas Lenherr positioned themselves behind for the quarter-finals.
2. Don't let yourself be thrown off course
By the time we reached the women's small final it had became clear that the athletes most feared the off-camber turn shortly before the finish. Alex Fiva had already missed the gate that follows it during the time trial and in the fight for fifth place among the women, it was Swiss skier Talina Gantenbein's turn to be caught out by it.
After leaving World Cup legend David a few metres behind early on, the skier from the Grison region was hot on the heels of Austria's Katrin Ofner as they followed the silver line. However, shortly before the end of the duel the result was decided when Gantenbein became another victim of that long left-hand bend and missed the subsequent gate.
It's the end of the season and we're all here having fun and sharing the same passion. That's the most important thing
3. Smith vs Näslund: a duel to remember
Fanny Smith versus Sandra Näslund is the big duel in ski-cross for the foreseeable future. While the Swiss won the Ski Cross World Cup this year and claimed the record for World Cup race wins, the Swede, who was injured at the beginning of the season, won the world championship and claimed the Red Bull SuperSkicross victory here to end the season on a high.
In the final, the two lined up alongside France's Marielle Berger Sabbatel and Alizee Baron, and from the start it was clear who the two protagonists of this race were. Näslund took the lead out of the gate, with Smith right on her tail, before the race was ultimately decided in a left turn: Smith attacked, but the Swede closed off the line to block her rival and took a close, but well deserved start-to-finish victory.
Red Bull SuperSkicross women's results
- Sandra Näslund (SWE)
- Fanny Smith (CH)
- Marielle Berger Sabbatel (FRA)
- Alizee Baron (FRA)
4. It pays to be different
'If everyone goes to the right, I'll go left', was the thinking of Swiss skier Marc Bischofberger and Austria's Adam Kappacher in their quarter-final races. While all the other skiers stayed as far to the right as possible in the first left-hand bend, the two of them pulled left towards the inside and passed thier rivals in a savvy move.
Even if the pair had less momentum for the subsequent waves, Kappacher made it into the race for fifth place with this tactic and Bischofberger made it all the way to the final. Once there however, French skier Jean-Frédéric Chapuis had cottoned on to his tactic and was able to keep Bischofberger behind him.
We all fight and do our best, but I think everyone had a good time. The course was great and I really enjoyed it
5. Mere millimetres make the difference
In the end, the season-ending race came down to just a few centimetres, driving the event to a thrilling climax. Right from the start, Ski Cross World Cup champion and pre-race favourite Reece Howden, Jean-Frédéric Chapuis and Marc Bischofberger fought a spectacular three-way battle.
Choosing the inside line in the first left-hand turn, Chapuis initially took the lead and was able to fend off Howden's attacks, but coming towards the finish the three leaders took the right-hand turn together, tied in a dramatic race that ended in a true photo finish at the line, with no one sure who'd won. Only after reviewing the footage was it clear: Howden had his outstretched arm mere centimetres ahead of his rivals from France and Switzerland, crowning him the first-ever Red Bull SuperSkicross champ.
Red Bull SuperSkicross men's results
- Reece Howden (CAN)
- Jean-Frédéric Chapuis (FRA)
- Marc Bischofberger (CHE)
- Jonas Lenherr (CHE)
6. In the end, what counts most is having fun
Despite all the hard-fought duels on the track, in the end all the competitors clearly had one thing in mind at Red Bull SuperSkicross – fun.
After their final fight, Fanny Smith and Sandra Naeslund fell into each other's arms and laughingly discussed their race, while Adam Kappacher launched a little trick in the small final at the target jump.
Same time next year? The world's best ski-cross racers certainly hope so.
Download the free Red Bull TV app and watch unmissable ski-cross action on all your devices! Get the app here.