16 Mar

Wonderful races in Crans-Montana despite timing problems


Almost 25,000 spectators were present for the Ladies’ World Cup Downhill and Combined in Crans-Montana on 23 and 24 February 2019. Despite a great success in sporting terms, the competitions were marred by issues with the Swiss Timing timing system that were totally beyond the control of the organisers.

Four days after the World Championships in Åre, the world’s best female skiers met in Crans-Montana. The Haut-Plateau resort, which has now established itself as a classic on the women’s World Cup circuit, organised a Downhill and Combined.

In blazing sunshine, 13,000 spectators gathered at the foot of the magnificently prepared Mont Lachaux piste on Saturday in order to watch a Downhill race in Crans-Montana for the first time since 2014. Just like the training sessions beforehand, Olympic champion Sofia Goggia dominated the competition. Whilst White Circus athletes and followers may have believed that a low starting number was necessary in order to win, the Italian proved the contrary, sporting race number 13. After a controlled downhill from start to finish, the transalpine skier outperformed Austria’s Nicole Schmidhofer by half a second, and Switzerland’ s Corinne Suter, who enjoyed a career-first World Cup podium finish,  after her two medals in the Worlds in Åre.

A huge connection problem in the Downhill

However the results of the Downhill were completely overshadowed by the many timing problems experienced  by Swiss Timing  which were totally beyond the control of the organisers, and which marred the competition. Firstly, the race had to be stopped several times to retrieve the time of several Swiss athletes. In fact the clock didn’t stop for Joana Hählen, Lara Gut-Behrami, Jasmine Flury and Priska Nufer as they crossed the finish line. Specifically, the A cell, which should have recorded the athletes’ times, did not trigger. The B cell, which replaces the A in the event of any issues, didn’t work either. A connection problem between the infrastructure installed at the finish line and the timing room was the source of the problems encountered by Swiss Timing, who were in charge of the timing on site, during the race.

In this situation, manual timing is used. Therefore Joana Hählen was placed 2nd, and Nicole Schmidhofer and Lara Gut-Behrami saw their 3rd and 4th places inversed.

Official results revised 72 hours after the race

While the public were celebrating Sofia Goggia, Joana Hählen and Lara Gut-Behrami at the official ceremony, which took place at the Ycoor Ice Rink, noone imagined that a new twist would arise.  In fact, 72 hours (!) after the race, the FIS announced a new official leaderboard, after another calculation of manual times which, after analysis, it was concluded had been registered incorrectly.

The 13 hundredths correction had been deducted from the skiers’ manual times instead of being added to their times. Therefore Swiss Timing recalculated all of the times using the new methodology, and confirmed the new results. Four members of the FIS working group checked these times. Joana Hählen and Lara Gut-Behrami, who were moved down to 4th and 6th  places, relinquished their podium places to Sofia Goggia, Nicole Schmidhofer and Corinne Suter. 

Investigations by the FIS and Swiss Timing revealed why the timing cell at the finish line wasn’t triggered when four Swiss skiers passed it. It was due to an adjustment problem with the cell, which had been set too high. After two training sessions, the snow level had dropped due to all the skiers compacting the snow, and also due to the snow melting  in the high temperatures on the Haut-Plateau at the time.

The FIS apologised to those in charge of the races in Crans-Montana for all of these inconveniences, which had lasted several days, events which were totally beyond the control of the organisers.

A positive result for sport and audiences after a record Combined race

Neverthless, the outcome for sport for the weekend was exceptional. The day after a wonderful party, the only ladies’ Combined of the season attracted 11,800 spectators to the foot of the Mont Lachaux piste. For the third year in a row, Italy’s Federica Brignone, who feels totally at home in Crans-Montana, took the race which crowned her the most versatile skier on the circuit. The Val d'Aosta skier beat Canada’s Roni Remme and Wendy Holdener from Schwyz after a slalom battle on the final wall of the Mont Lachaux piste, which perfectly survived the onslaught, despite the high temperatures. After the race, once the markers were removed, you couldn’t in fact even see where the skiers had passed.

Overall, 31,400 spectators attended the races, ceremonies and World Cup Party during this crazy weekend in Crans-Montana.  Rendez-vous on 22 and 23 February 2020 in the Valais resort for a women’s Downhill and Super-G.  - Johan Tachet, Ski Actu/Translation: Sarah Dunn.

DEPREZphoto, cransmontana


24 Feb

A hat-trick for Federica Brignone

Federica Brignone has, for the third year in a row, won the Crans-Montana Combined. She beat the Canadian Roni Remme and Swiss Wendy Holdener from Schwyz.

Federica Brignone feels at home in Crans-Montana. After her successes in 2017 and 2018, it was the Val d’Aosta skier’s third consecutive win in a Combined in Crans-Montana in as many years. The Italian beat the astonishing Canadian Roni Remme, who finished with the first podium place in her career, 38 hundredths behind the winner. "For me, Crans-Montana is a special place, I’ve always felt comfortable here, both in Downhill and Slalom", explains the winner of the day.

Although they couldn’t compete against Brignone, the Swiss once again displayed strong performances on the Mont Lachaux piste. Therefore the Combined World Champion Wendy Holdener completed the podium line-up for the Valais heat, with almost 12,000 fans cheering her on. Although the Schwyz native took 3rd place in the Super-G last year, it’s the first time that she has been a medal winner in a Combined in Crans-Montana.

Best result of their careers for Kopp, Nufer and Gröbli

At the foot of the podium, Rahel Kopp from St. Gall achieved the best result of her career. Her previous best result was a 5th place in the Combined in Soldeu in 2016, on Sunday she finished half a second behind Wendy Holdener. 

In taking 8th place, Priska Nufer matches the best result of her career, while Nathalie Gröbli, in 16th place, had never placed so well in a World Cup.

A positive result for the organisation committee

This Combined completes the 2019 World Cup in Crans-Montana, "one of the best editions under Valais’ sunny skies ", says Marius Robyr, president of the race organisation committee. "It’s all been positive. Personally, I don’t know what we could have changed to do any better".

In all, 31,470 spectators attended the races, ceremonies and World Cup Party. "The crowds were amazing, it was wild all over the resort ",  a delighted Marius Robyr continued.

The next meet in the Valais resort is scheduled for 22 and 23 February 2020, when there will be a Downhill and Super-G on the Mont-Lachaux piste.

Video: Johan Tachet/Laurent Morel, SkiActu

Fotos: DEPREZphoto, cransmontana


23 Feb

The JUZI and the GENDERBÜEBU set the World Cup Party ambiance on fire

Hundreds of thousands of fans have already applauded the JUZI. The Juzi are «Die Jungen Zillertaler», and they’re in their 25th year of appearing on stage, appearing 35 times already on the famous Musikantenstadel show. After performing to a cheering audience at a showcase at the Ycoor Ice Rink just before the prizegiving ceremony and the draw for the Combined (Sunday, Downhill at 10.30 and slalom at 13.30), the Austrians gave a great show at a packed «Régent» hall. On top form, they shook the foundations of the tennis courts which had been transformed into a concert hall for the occasion.  

«Die Jungen Zillertaler» are one of the most popular groups on the European folk music scene. They continued to build a great atmosphere after a very successful first concert by their colleagues, the Genderbüebu. This accordian quartet from Upper Valais is also extremely popular: they recently received the Golden Award from the folk music programme Viva on the SRF1 channel. «Folk music is part of the White Circus », declared Hugo Steinegger, manager of the World Cup party. « We have to keep this celebration in Crans-Montana’s race programme.»

Video: Johan Tachet/Laurent Morel, SkiActu

Photos: Luciano Miglionico


23 Feb

Sofia Goggia takes the top step of the podium beating the Swiss

During a Downhill race under sunny skies in Crans-Montana that was interrupted several times, Sofia Goggia proved that she was the best, finishing in front of Joana Hählen and Lara Gut-Behrami. The Italian deserved to be tipped as favourite in the Crans-Montana Downhill, after placing first in both of the training sessions. It’s an understatement to say that the skier from Bergamo didn’t disappoint in Saturday’s race.  Skiing majestically from start to finish on the Mont Lachaux piste, her lead was considerable; 0″36 in front of Joana Hählen and 0″46 faster than Lara Gut-Behrami.

Although it’s the 6th World Cup win for the Italian, who is Olympic Downhill champion and recent World Super-G silver medallist, Joana Hählen had never managed a podium place before on the White Circus circuit. The skier from Bern made great use of her lucky bib number (6), on a piste which hadn’t deteriorated as much as expected, despite the spring temperatures.

The Swiss shine despite problems with the timing

Behind the surprise place for Joana Hählen, it was Lara Gut-Behrami who took 3rd place. After a race that was disrupted by timing problems, the podium place for the skier from Ticino was only confirmed thirty minutes after the race had ended, as she had initially been placed 4th. Lots of competitors, including Joana Hählen, Lara Gut-Behrami, Jasmine Flury and Priska Nufer, experienced problems with their times, as the clock did not stop as they crossed the finish line. The Downhill was also disrupted by several falls, including the Slovenian World Champion Ilka Stuhec, and France’s Tiffany Gauthier, who had to be heliported off the course.

This didn’t stop the Swiss from giving great performances on the Haut Plateau. Besides Joana Hählen and Lara Gut-Behrami, Corinne Suter took 5th place and Jasmine Flury 7th place. Priska Nufer was 12th, completing the excellent results for Switzerland.

Statement from Longines and Swiss Timing regarding World Cup Crans-Montana ladies' downhill

DEPREZphoto, cransmontana
Agence Zoom


22 Feb

Party atmosphere at the Ycoor Ice Rink– Corinne Suter has chosen number 11

It bodes well for this weekend’s races :  there were already several thousand ski fans present on Friday evening to cheer the stars of the White Circus at the first draw for race numbers. Every athlete who descended onto the stage by zip line was greeted by loud applause.   Naturally the decibels skyrocketed for the World Downhill silver medallist  Corinne Suter. The Swiss skiers’ ‘rivals’, Italian Sofia Goggia and the Austrians, were also warmly welcomed by the Crans-Montana crowd, and they all appreciated the fireworks at the end of the ceremony.  

The reigning world champion, Slovenian Ilka Stuhec, had the honour of choosing her bib number first, and will be sporting number 1, while Corinne Suter took number 11. 

On Saturday, the programme of festivities after the morning’s races starts at 17.30. It includes a performance by the Jungen Zillertaller, which will be followed by prizegiving for the Downhill, and the draw for race numbers for the Combined on Sunday. Not forgetting the huge

"World Cup Party" at the Régent tennis hall, with concerts by the Genderbüebu and the Jungen Zillertaller, for a night which will continue until 2 in the morning. (Tickets available at the Régent on the night). 

Video: Johan Tachet/Laurent Morel, SkiActu



22 Feb

The favourites analyse the Crans-Montana Downhill

The best skiers in the world have been taking stock of the Mont Lachaux piste after Thursday and Friday’s training sessions. On the eve of the Downhill, Slovenian World Champion Ilka Stuhec, Italy’s Sofia Goggia and Federica Brignone, Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel and Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather talk about the specific features of this Crans-Montana piste.

Video (interview in french): Johan Tachet, SkiActu


22 Feb

Sofia Goggia in the lead once again

The Italian, who already won the race in the first training session, did it again on Friday under  sunny Haut-Plateau skies. She will be the overwhelming favourite in the Downhill on Saturday.

Crans-Montana seems to be smiling on Sofia Goggia this year. The skier from Bergamo was very much at ease on the Mont Lachaux piste, and took the second Downhill training session. She finished 0’’30 in front of the astonishing American Alice Merryweather, and 0’’55 in front of Austria’s Mirjam Puchner.

It is sometimes difficult to deduce much from the practice sessions, as lots of athletes were already upright before the finish, hiding their strategy, whilst others missed one or more gates.

As for the Swiss, Lara Gut-Behrami finished in an encouraging 4th place, just in front of Corinne Suter. In eighth place, Priska Nufer could also be a hopeful for Saturday’s race, which has been brought forward to 09.30 due to the spring temperatures forecast in Crans-Montana.

DEPREZphotos, cransmontana
Agence Zoom

21 Feb

Crans-Montana: Ladies World Cup Downhill on Saturday 23 February has been brought forward to 09.30

Due to high temperatures, the jury for the FIS Ladies’ World Cup races in Crans-Montana has decided to bring forward the Downhill on Saturday 23 February to 09.30 (instead of 10.15).

Times for the Alpine Combined on Sunday 24 February remain the same, that is Downhill at 10.30 followed by the Slalom at 13.30.

21 Feb

Corinne Suter and Wendy Holdener ready to impress the public

The two Åre World medal winners talk before their races in Crans-Montana

Corinne Suter and Wendy Holdener are expecting a large and motivated crowd in Valais to celebrate their return to Switzerland after their success in Sweden. Although Corinne felt at ease in the first training session on the Mont Lachaux piste, Wendy still needs to find her feet. However we are confident that the two skiers from Schwyz will give it all they’ve got, on a piste which should hold up, despite the spring temperatures.

 Video (interview in french): Laurent Morel, SkiActu