It has been roughly a month since World Cup action for the season wrapped in Aspen, Colo. Over the five-month marathon, we saw veterans win races and globes as well as a lot of young athletes produce breakout runs. It was a season full of excitement and surprises. Here’s the breakdown.
Everything but the lenses.
Athletes have head sponsors, helmet and goggle sponsors, pole sponsors and sponsors on their speed suits. They look a lot like NASCAR vehicles. The only place they don’t seem to have sponsors in on their lenses, so they can – you know – see. Arguably, the most important piece of equipment is an athletes’ skis, and FIS calculates the most successful ski brands each year with its Brand Rankings.
In 2016-17, Atomic took the top spot for the first time since 2010. They dethroned HEAD, who has dominated since then. HEAD finished only 25 points behind the brand that boasts both of this year’s overall World Cup globe winners, Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. and Marcel Hirscher of Austria. Rossignol rounded out the top three brands in third place.
Let’s talk money.
This year, Shiffrin earned the most prize money of any alpine athlete – male or female – on the World Cup circuit. She claimed a total of 597,692 Swiss francs (approximately 595,000 U.S. dollars), which is 166,992.62 francs more than the top female earner in 2016, Lindsey Vonn. It’s the first time a woman was the top-earning athlete since retired Slovenian star Tina Maze earned 701,797 Swiss francs in her record-breaking season of 2013.
Six-time consecutive overall World Cup globe winner Marcel Hirscher was the second highest prize money recipient, earning 528,878.66 Swiss francs. In terms of prize money, the Austrian far out-earned his fellow male competitors. Norwegian tech star Henrik Kristoffersen was the second highest earning male at 294,722.25 Swiss francs.
The third highest earner of any World Cup man or woman was Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, raking in 414,314.00 Swiss francs. In total, the top 10 prize money winners on the ladies’ World Cup out-earned the top 10 men by more than 400,000 Swiss Francs.
Who run the World (Cup)? Girls.
Meeting performance goals.
Most employees dread their annual review, a yearly look at their work performance and a chance for supervisors to provide feedback. There are a few athletes this year who might actually enjoy their annual review because they far exceeded their likely performance goals.
Ilka Stuhec had a long, hard climb to the top of the World Cup rankings filled with injuries, but this season everything from the Slovenian’s equipment to her confidence came together. From the first downhill of the season, Stuhec surprised even herself, ultimately winning the downhill at the 2017 World Championships and World Cup discipline globes in alpine combined and downhill. The Slovenian came within 200 points of also claiming the overall title.
Leif Kristian Haugen, a Norwegian tech skier, is part of a rising generation of athletes who had successful NCAA careers and are now competing on the World Cup. The Attacking Viking skied for the University of Denver, and this season, he broke out on the international scene, earning his first World Championships medal in giant slalom. He was the first NCAA alumnus to do so since 2001. Following that result, he earned his first World Cup podium in Slovenia.
Until this season, Sofia Goggia had never stood on a World Cup podium. But like a bat out of hell, she flew to the forefront of World Cup racing starting in Killington, Vt. Before the new year, the Italian had podiumed in four different disciplines. Then, in 2017, she finally took her first victories during the Olympic test event in Jeongseon, South Korea.
Linus Strasser, a young German athlete, only grabbed a start position in the Stockholm City Event because teammate Felix Neureuther was dealing with knee problems. He took advantage of the opportunity, beating every opponent to take the win at the event under the lights. Strasser has had two other top-10 World Cup finishes – fifth place in the 2015 Schladming slalom and 10th place in the 2017 Adelboden slalom.
In your opinion, what was the biggest surprise of the World Cup season? Let us know in the comments below.