Men's Val Gardena/Gröden Speed Weekend Preview
Val Gardena will host two races, a Downhill, and a Super-G, on Friday and Saturday.
Val Gardena/Gröden is a valley in Northern Italy, in South Tyrol. Three beautiful villages with predominantly Ladin-speaking communities are located in the valley after the valley of Pontives, also called Porta Ladina: Val Gardena Ortisei Selva, and Santa Cristina. Val Gardena is located at the heart of the Dolomites, a place declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. The Dolomites comprises a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 meters and cover 141,903 ha. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs, and a high density of narrow, deep, and long valleys.
The Dolomites Val Gardena ski area is part of the Dolomiti Superski, a world-famous network of 12 ski areas in the Dolomites and 1.200 km of slopes. The ski pass includes also the famous Sella Ronda. The ski tour of the four Dolomite Passes around the Sella massif, is one of the most spectacular in the world. The tour can be done easily in one day, without removing your skis and passing through the four Ladin valleys: Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Val di Fassa, and Arabba.
Val Gardena is home to the Saslong Classic, a Men's World Cup Downhill race.
In 1967, the International Ski Federation decided to host the 1970 Ski World Championships in the valley. The first World Cup race was held in Val Gardena/Gröden on February 14th, 1969.
The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1970 were held in Val Gardena, from February 8–15, 1970. For the only time, results from the World Championships were included in the World Cup points standings, then in its fourth season.
Since 1972 and Val Gardena become a traditional venue of the World Cup races. In 1975, Val Gardena/Gröden hosted the World Cup Finals for the first and only time.
No technical races have been hosted in the valley since then, only a Downhill until 2002, when the Downhill has been paired with a Super-G race.
Last week in Val d'Isère Mauro Caviezel (SUI) reminded everyone once again why he has won last year's Super-G Globe and collect his first victory in this discipline. He had finished in the top five in each of the last eight Super-G races.
Mauro Caviezel won the Super-G crystal globe, finishing just three points ahead of Vincent Kriechmayr. Caviezel became the third man to win the Super-G globe without winning a World Cup super-G that season, after Pirmin Zurbriggen in 1987-1988 and Franz Heinzer in 1990-1991.
Vincent Kriechmayr was the only man to win two Super-G races last World Cup season, one of them in Val Gardena. Kriechmayr finished second in the Super-G standings in each of the last three seasons.
Kjetil Jansrud has won 13 World Cup races in the super-G, ranking him third on the all-time men's list behind Hermann Maier (24) and Svindal (17). Jansrud is the only man who won a Super-G race in each of the last seven World Cup seasons. He won the Super-G crystal globe in three of the last six seasons (2015, 2017, 2018).
On the Downhill side, Martin Cater earned his first World Cup podium and victory on Sunday in Val d'Isère with Otmar Striedinger in second place on his fourth World Cup podium. He finished 0.22s behind the Slovenian. Third place went to Urs Kryenbuehl 0.27s behind Cater. It was the second World Cup podium for Kryenbuehl.
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was fourth and the first one of the favorites. He finished in the top 10 in each of his last nine World Cup appearances in the Downhill. He finished fourth in the Downhill standings last season.
Johan Clarey ended the race in fifth place. Clarey has collected six World Cup podiums in the Downhill but failed to win one. The last Frenchman to win a World Cup downhill was Adrien Théaux in Santa Caterina on 29 December 2015.
Beat Feuz finished in sixth place. Last season, Feuz won the Downhill crystal globe for a third successive time. Among men, only Franz Klammer (5) and Didier Cuche (4) have won this globe at least four times. Feuz reached the podium in 18 of the last 23 Downhill races in the World Cup (5 wins). The only exceptions in this period were four sixth places and a fourth place.
Last season, Downhill was canceled due to bad weather. On the Super-G, after a complicated race characterized by a dense fog and many long interruptions, Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) was finally able to celebrate. The Austrian skier impressed everyone with a solid run, finishing just 0.05 seconds ahead of Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud and 0.22 of Thomas Dressen (GER).
The top 10 men of the day were incredibly packed in. Behind Dressen, most times differed by only hundredths of a second, meaning that Friday’s shortened super-G course was anybody’s ball game.
In 2018, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde kept the Norwegian dominance of the Saslong after winning the downhill in Val Gardena.
Wearing bib 5, Kilde laid down a blistering run, that no other racer could come close to. Finishing in second place was Austrian Max Franz, 0.86 behind, while Beat Feuz (SUI) finished in third place 0.92 seconds off the mark.
Norway has dominated the Saslong race weekend in recent years as the Attacking Vikings have earned seven victories in the last races in Val Gardena picking up a total of 15 podiums.
On December 14th, 2018 Aksel Lund Svindal won his last World Cup victory in his career in Val Gardena. Only +0.02 behind him, Italy’s Christof Innerhofer grabbed a second-place and Norway’s Kjetil Janrsud completed the podium.
The program in Val Gardena will be the following:
Super-G, Friday, December 18th. 11:45 (CET)
Downhill, Saturday, December 19th. 11.45 (CET)
Start Elevation: 2249m (Downhill) 2000m (Super-G)
Finish Elevation: 1410 m
Vertical Drop: 839m (Downhill) 590m (Super-G)
Distance: 3446m (Downhill) 2365m (Super-G)
Average slope: 24.5 %
Max. slope: 56.9 %
Min. slope: 11.2 %