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Swedish men sweep Europa Cup opener; Kwame DNF

Swedish men sweep Europa Cup opener; Kwame DNF{mosimage}The Europa Cup season got under way Friday, Nov. 4 in the Netherlands, with Sweden sweeping the podium in a knockout slalom at an indoor ski hall in Landgraaf. While the U.S. Ski Team often competes in Europa Cup races, no Americans were present for this one.

Indoor skiing is especially popular in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany. Ski Racing is preparing an upcoming magazine feature on the indoor-racing trend and its implications for the sport.

On Sunday, the women’s Europa Cup kicks off in Bottrop, Germany, an indoor ski hall that was built partly with investment from five-time overall World Cup winner Marc Girardelli.

Three Swedes – Matthias Hargin, Hans Olsson and Oscar Andersson – took the top three spots in Thursday’s race, which followed the knockout format the FIS tried at the World Cup level in the 2002-03 season.
Knockout slaloms consist of two qualifying runs that set up an elimination-format race. Skiers make plenty of turns, even though Landgraaf’s course is only 22 seconds long.

The Europa Cup schedule is divided into blocks, and visits some lesser-known ski nations such as Russia and Poland. A key section of the calendar is Dec. 13-15, when there are three men’s races in Italy (Alta Badia, St. Vigilio and Obereggen) that usually attract solid World Cup fields.

Last year, Hannes Reichelt of Austria and Kjetil Jansrud of Norway tied to win the Europa Cup, with 1,206 points each. Austria swept the top three spots in the women’s Europa Cup, with Andrea Fischbacher setting the pace with 827 points, followed by Michaela Kirchgasser (724 points) and Daniela Zeiser (603 points).

Introducing the Kwame Watch: Among the skiers competing in Landgraaf was Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, from Ghana, who did not finish. Nkrumah-Acheampong, who lives near London, is attempting to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games in February, but needs to lower his points to 140 to make it. He plans to race FIS races in Europe. Skiracing.com will follow his progress closely.

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