The Wednesday of Hahnenkamm race week in Kitzbuehel, Austria, is traditionally dedicated to the next generation of skiing talent: It is the day of the Hahnenkamm Juniors, a special challenge for the ski stars of tomorrow. Ten teams in total competed this year, representing Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, the Netherlands, USA and Austria, as well as a separate team from the Tyrol region. Male and female skiers from each team contested one morning run of giant slalom and one afternoon run of slalom down the Ganslernhang slope.
At the conclusion of the GS it looked like the competition would end with the German team’s surprise victory – but in a come-from-behind attack, the Austrians proved themselves in the slalom, winning the race decisively. The young Austrian men were particularly impressive: Christoph Meißl, Simon Oberhamberger and Elias Höller brought overall victory to Team Austria 1. The young Team Austria 2 athletes were five seconds behind, landing in second place.
The Slovenians’ surprisingly strong performance in the slalom landed them in third place. After four crashes in the slalom leg, German athletes were visibly disappointed in the end as they fell behind even the Italians in fifth. The U.S., represented by Patrick Coughlin (Burke Mountain Academy), Ben Ritchie (Green Mountain Valley School), Zane Worrell (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail), Kaitlyn Harsch (SSCV), AJ Hurt (Squaw Valley Ski Team), and Allie Resnick (SSCV) finished ninth overall.
Team Netherlands, participating for the first time ever, had to make do with last place.
However, Team Germany wasn’t feeling blue for too long. The six best teams were congratulated during the awards ceremony and every athlete was beaming as was Hansi Hinterseer, who presented the teams with their prizes and applauded them all for their achievements. Hans Pum, President of the Austrian Ski Federation, was very happy with “his” racers and said that, after this strong performance, Austrian ski fans need not fear the future.
Race organizers had another highlight in store for the junior athletes after the competition: together with FIS Race Director Hannes Trinkl and Chief of Race Axel Naglich, they inspected the men’s World Cup downhill race course.
Release and photos courtesy of Hahnenkamm ROC