Over the last two weeks, national championships in Europe followed the World Cup and closed out the alpine competition season for many racers. For some countries, it’s been two years since national championships have been held. While many World Cup athletes chose to kick back and forgo these events after a long season, here’s a recap of the all the action from across the pond. The U.S. commences its national championships next week in Aspen.
A consolidated championship race took place in Are for the Swedish national championship after the first three days of races were canceled. Six athletes across three events were crowned national champions in downhill, GS, and slalom.
After an exhausting season on the World Cup circuit, Are lacked many World Cup regulars on the start list, which provided young athletes an opportunity to rise to the occasion, including Olle Sundin, Sweden’s new super G national champion who recently came off a season of consistent top-10 Europa Cup speed finishes. 25-year-old Estelle Alphand, who faced a challenging World Cup season with a single top 30 in super G, took the super G national championship for the women, along with a fourth place finish in slalom.
In the tech events, Sara Hector was the shining star after a second-place finish in super G, then winning both the GS and slalom national titles. Just short of an individual podium this World Cup season, Hector found her edge in her home country’s championship. 19-year-old Adam Hofstedt took the men’s slalom title and Mattias Roenngren claimed the men’s GS title after finishing second in the race behind Finland’s Samu Torsti.
The Italian tech championships kicked off in Livigno on March 22. Just days leading up to the event, Federica Brignone made suggestive comments about the future racing career, hinting at a possible retirement. Days later, Brignone captured two podium finishes, including the national title in slalom and second-place finish behind teammate Marta Bassino in GS. For the men it was Hannes Zingerle who took the GS title and Stefano Gross who captured the slalom title.
Santa Caterina held the premier Italian national championships in downhill, alpine combined, and super G. The results at the downhill championships did not come as a surprise. Dominik Paris had a substantial lead in the training run and prevailed to take the Italian downhill title. For 31-year-old Paris, who stayed ahead of Christof Innerhofer and Matteo Marsaglia, it was his first downhill title after winning three championships in super G years prior.
In the women’s downhill, Nadia Delago, second, was the top Italian prevailing over Francesca Marsaglia, who finished third. The race, however, was won by Ilka Stuhec, the previous world champion in downhill. Marsaglia rose to the occasion in the super G and combined event, winning both races.
In the men’s race, it was a tie in the alpine combined between Giovanni Franzoni, faster in the slalom, and Federico Paini, who reached the finish ahead in the super G. Christof Innerhofer, second in the super G behind Emeanuele Buzzi, missed his title chance with a critical error in the slalom portion of the combined.
The Swiss Championships in Anniviers concluded over eight days with three women taking the five titles and five men each taking a title. 18-year-old Delia Durrer was the Swiss star of the week, capturing three national titles in downhill, super G, and combined. Durrer had ambitions going into the weekend and produced the best times in the downhill training. Durrer had dominated in the speed events and was at ease in tough conditions in the alpine combined, which provided her first championship titles in three events.
Just days after coming out of quarantine from testing positive with COVID-19 and after missing the final World Cup races of the season, Melanie Meillard captured the Swiss slalom title for the second time since 2017. Rounding out the Swiss championships for women was Camille Rast who prevailed by 1.14 seconds to win the GS title, her second national title in the discipline.
Justin Murisier took his third men’s GS championship title by just 0.02 seconds ahead of Daniele Sette. Sette appeared to be the clear winner after the first run, leading by over a second. Conditions softened going into the second run under strong sun, and Murisier took the win.
Ramon Zenhausem became the Swiss slalom champion for the second time and clearly prevailed by 0.93 seconds. Rounding out the Swiss championships was Ralph Weber winning the downhill, Lars Rosti with super G, and Sandro Simonent in combined.
Austria was filled with exciting finishes and new champions decided by hundredths of a second. In the opening super G and combined races in Glungezer, tech specialist Adrian Pertl took home the combined title after a dominating finish in slalom that moved him from 27th position after the speed portion to take the win. Christine Scheyer won for the women.
In super G, 29-year-old Otmar Striedinger won his second championship title just 0.14 ahead of Stefan Babinsky three years after his first title in downhill in 2018. 2021 World Junior super G Champion Lena Wechner added Austrian super G champion to her resume and in her favorite event. Wechner clenches the title from Christina Ager who held the national title in super G for a short few months after the Austrian national championships were held in December when the regularly scheduled championships last spring were cancelled due to COVID-19.
Just hundredths of a second decided the GS champion. In the end, Magnus Walch, the independent athlete, prevailed just ahead of Stefan Brennsteiner. 28-year-old Walch was dropped from the Austrian Ski Association at the end of the 2018-19 season and joined American Paul Epstein’s Global Racing team with the goal to make his way back to the Austrian squad.
Marie-Therese Sporer and Dominik Raschner secured the slalom titles, both winning their first national titles. Raschner took the win on his home mountain.
23-year-old Elisa Morzinger, the recent addition to the Austrian National team, took the final Austrian championship title in GS and closed the championship season in Europe. Morzinger fell short to the Italian Elisa Platino in the GS race, who prevailed over Morzinger by 0.29. Morzinger was able to successfully defend her 2020 GS national title, which she earned just three months earlier.
The Americans will have their chance at claiming national titles next week in Aspen, Colo. While the 2020 championships were made up during the season opening races at Copper Mountain, many who claimed national titles then will sit out the 2021 series, opening up the door for many athletes to chase their national title dreams. U.S. nationals begin April 5 with the highly anticipated men’s slalom.