7 Apr

Urs Lehmann in the running for the FIS presidency

In an interview with Valentin Oetterli from the Keystone-ATS press agency, Urs Lehmann (51), the longstanding Swiss-Ski president, talks about being a candidate for the FIS presidency, his chances of being elected, and the person who should replace him at the head of the Swiss federation.

Urs Lehmann, you took your time to announce that you would be running as a candidate for the presidency of the FIS International Ski Federation. The time has come. Does this mean that you feel you have a good chance of becoming Gian Franco Kasper’s successor?
"I’ve analysed things and I believe that my chances of being elected aren’t bad.  We can keep the FIS presidency in Switzerland – although that’s been the case for the last 69 years already. But there’s no guarantee."

Marc Hodler from Bern was the FIS president for 47 years from 1951, and in 1998, Gian Franco Kasper from Graubünden succeeded him. And now Aargau’s Urs Lehmann could take over the helm. Some people are asking why trust should be placed in a Swiss president again ?
"Nationality, sex, colour of skin, none of this should matter. The person who is most suitable for the position should be elected. It’s up to me to convince the voters of my qualities and capacities. If at the end of the day they decide that they no longer want to place their confidence in a Swiss candidate, I’ll accept that."

During the many conversations that you’ve had during the past few months, which people and countries have shown they support you ?
"I can’t go into details. In fact, I’ve been interested in this position for quite a while, but I’ve always said that I wouldn’t do anything before Gian Franco Kasper resigned. In January, I went to see him and he was very open and transparent with me when discussing his situation - I knew a few things already, but not everything. I then made the effort to ask about the concerns of the associations who will be voting, and I thought about what I could do. As a result, I now know pretty much where I am, and which countries and regions are supporting me."

Why do you want to become FIS president ?
"For different reasons. I really enjoy my current position with Similasan (a company selling homeopathic products) and Swiss-Ski. But the FIS presidency is one of those opportunities that you probably only have once in your life. I’ve had the privilege of having such an opportunity once already in my life, when I became world downhill champion (1993). And now I’m convinced that I can make a success of this difficult and important task too. A lot of people can confirm that I’m up to the task. I feel there is great support on a national and international level."

What are the themes of your electoral campaign?
"I wrote a manifesto. It’s kind of my official electoral programme. It says, for example, that we must strengthen the sport. We have to find more enticing formats. The closer we get to this, the more athletes will have the chance to take part, and the more sponsors and money the system will create. These funds can then be reinvested into the sport. It’s an upward cycle and it’s something that we at Swiss-Ski have consistently followed. The second point is that if the sport is going to be more enticing, we have to be able to commercialise it more. For example, one subject that occurs to me is a tour in Asia. These markets are expanding – which is not the case in Europe. In real terms, there doesn’t have to be a revolution, but coherent evolution. This is important to me."

What are the other points in your manifesto?
"Governance has to be strengthened, for example, in regards to the questions of gender, and climate. Clear structures need to be created. The FIS also has to react proactively in the future. At the moment, it is still running behind on these issues, as Swiss skiing was at certain times, but we managed to regain control in order to take our destiny into our own hands.  I also want to see the FIS united and stronger. There are over 70 countries voting and in addition to this, 60 affiliated national federations, who don’t have the right to vote. Powerful federations have to stay powerful, while at the same time trying to strengthen the medium and weaker federations."

When you hear "FIS", what do you think of ?
"In my manifesto, it says: «Our future is strong». This expression has become my slogan. The FIS, as a governing body, is one of the strongest winter sports federations. Almost half of the medals awarded at the Winter Olympic Games are through sports managed by the FIS, so it has done a lot of good things in the past. The FIS has also had relatively few scandals and doping incidents in recent years. The association has a relatively positive image. Now it’s about bringing this solid construction into a new era. For me, it’s clear that things must change. At the beginning, there will be resistance, but I’m convinced that evolution is necessary and will happen."

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FIS congress in Thailand, which should have been taking place in May, has been cancelled. The election of Gian Franco Kasper’s successor will now be taking place in autumn at the earliest. Do you regret the situation ?  
"All of the Covid-19 situation is a tragedy for humanity. For the FIS, where a change of generation was scheduled, it comes at the worst possible time. But we can’t do anything except wait and hope that the situation will be resolved before the traditional autumn meetings in Zurich."

Due to the postponement of the congress, your re-election as Swiss-Ski president is likely to take place at the delegates’ meeting in Frutigen at the end of June. Are you going to stand again ?  
"Yes, if it is possible for the delegates’ meeting to take place at that time. If I’m not elected FIS president, I’ll continue working for Swiss-Ski for another four years, but of course the association has succession planning.  At Swiss-Ski, we’re lucky that Peter Barandun (CEO and president of the board of directors of Electrolux Switzerland) is ready to take over office. But if it doesn’t work out between and the FIS and myself, I’ll remain president of Swiss-Ski, and him vice-president.

And what about Similasan?
"I’m definitely going to stay, but my role could change.This issue has already been discussed and feedback from the board of directors has been very supportive. Everything took place in the first quarter, because originally I wanted to announce my candidature at the World Cup finals in Cortina d’Ampezzo. »

Interview translation: Sarah Dunn

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 Urs Lehmann, as the letter of intent for the Crans-Montana/Valais 2025 candidature is presented to Gian Franco Kasper, the FIS president.

 

24 Feb

A thousand THANKS!

Advertising "Remerciements" in Le Nouvelliste from 26.02,.2020

2020-02-25 LORO-VS

Advertising "Remerciements" in Le Nouvelliste from 25.02,.2020

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24 Feb

Mont Lachaux: a piste worthy of the World Championships

Crans-Montana was once again the scene for sensational races this weekend. And the very least that can be said is that the World Cup skiers were charmed by the Mont Lachaux piste, and had great praise for it. As for the president Marius Robyr, the organising committee received congratulations from all of the White Circus for races which were «worthy of the World Championships » 

Corinne Suter, who had already been in third place in the Crans-Montana Downhill in 2019, had high praise for the Haut-Plateau piste. «It has everything that gives a downhill piste its strength, and it would of course be perfect for the World Championships», declared the 25 year old from Schwyz.  The top Downhill skier this winter was extremely happy to have secured the crystal Globe in the discipline in front of the Swiss public on Saturday.

For Lara Gut-Behrami, it hasn’t exactly been love at first sight from her first competition on the Mont Lachaux piste  - she didn’t finish the Downhill in 2014, and despite several successful training sessions, she wasn’t ever able to impose in a race. But she finally managed to remedy that this year, by winning two Downhills in 24 hours ! «I definitely appreciate this piste a lot more now ! », joked the 28 year old from Ticino.   The Comano local admitted that she would be more than satisfied if the World Championships take place in Valais in 2025.

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And what about Federica Brignone, who talks about Crans-Montana as a «magical place»? The Italian won the Combined, her fourth in four years on the Mont Lachaux piste.

Even Austria’s Nina Ortlieb, third in Saturday’s Downhill greatly appreciated it.  "I love races in Crans-Montana and I’m really grateful to everyone who prepared the piste. It’s thanks to them that I was able to finish on the podium despite my number 20 race bib and the high temperatures.» 

The next rendez-vous with the Women’s World Cup in Crans-Montana is 23 and 24 January 2021. Once again, there will be a Downhill and a Combined.  

 

23 Feb

"Extraordinary, fantastic, perfect competitions"

On Sunday, at the end of the third day of competitions, Marius Robyr talked about this very special edition in his role as president of the organising committee for the World Cup races in Crans-Montana.

"It was an absolutely extraordinary weekend. We had the weather on our side, the piste conditions were excellent, and the fans were quite simply fantastic".  In all, 31,000 supporters attended the three races, while the official ceremonies and bib draws attracted 3,000 people each evening at the Ycoor ice rink.

Marius Robyr appeared happy with the whole ensemble of ski events organised in the Haut-Plateau resort this winter. "From the night exhibition slalom in January to the European Cup and World Cup races, everything was a perfect success." As he is also the executive director for the Crans-Montana/Valais bid for the World Championships, he is convinced that the smooth running of this competition is a "good sign" in view of the choice of site that will be hosting the Worlds in 2025.

"It’s important to win over the 17 members of the FIS administrative council who have to decide between the three candidates, Crans-Montana, Garmisch and Saalbach, with the best possible presentations at the congress at the end of May", he continues "The motto for our presentation is the best of the best". For Marius Robyr, "Those at the FIS making the decision have to want to come to Crans-Montana".

Video: Johan Tachet/SkiActu

 

 

 

23 Feb

Federica Brignone champion in Crans-Montana

The Italian secured a win in Valais. Thanks to her victory in the combined, her fourth in Crans-Montana, she moves to the top of the World Cup standings. The Swiss only just missed podium places.

She didn’t dare believe it as she arrived in Crans-Montana, however she managed to do it. Federica Brignone leaves Valais with the red leader bib for the general World Cup standings. The Val d’Aosta athlete won the combined on Sunday on the Mont Lachaux piste, flying past the competition from the Super-G heat onwards. It is her fourth victory in 4 years in the discipline (5 races) in Crans-Montana. Furthermore, she won the very first race of the season in the discipline in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, and is heading for the Globe in the discipline, as she is 75 points in front of Wendy Holdener, just before the last race of the season in a week’s time in La Thuile (ITA).

In Crans-Montana, Federica Brignone benefited in particular from Petra Vlhova crashing out. The Slovak, second in the Super-G, was racing against the Italian for the victory, but straddled a gate. It should be noted that she has hurt her knee.  According to a few rumours, notably amongst the RAI and RSI, the holder of the third place in the overall World Cup standing has cartilage degeneration in the tibial plateau. Although she has been advised to rest, she decided to continue her season, as she still has a chance of winning the overall Globe.

Top of the overall rankings for Brignone

The podium was completed by the Austrian Franziska Gritsch and the Czech Ester Ledecka, who took 2ndand 3rd places on the World Cup podium.  As for the Swiss, they didn’t manage to continue their winning streak after two doubles in two days in the downhill. Michelle Gisin (8th in the Super-G) took the final 4th place, just 0″11 away from the podium. Wendy Holdener (10th in the Super-G) didn’t do so well in the slalom leg, and had to make do with 5th place in the final results.  

Thanks to her victory, Federica Brignone is at the top of the overall World Cup standings, 73 points ahead of Mikaela Shiffrin. Absent in Valais, the American is recovering from the sudden death of her father. A reminder; there are four stages left in the women’s World Cup this winter (La Thuile, Ofterschwang, Åre, Cortina).

DEPREZphoto sa, cransmontana/Agence Zoom

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1st Federica Brignone/ITA  
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2nd Franziska Gritsch/ALL  
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3rd Ester Ledecka/CZE  
   
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4th Michelle Gisin/SUI  
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5th Wendy Holdener/SUI  
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Michelle Gisin: “A positive result”

Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener fail at the foot of the combined podium in Crans-Montana. Although this 4th place is particularly welcome for the former, the second has regrets.

After Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter’s two doubles in the downhills, the Swiss had to make do with places of honour on Sunday in the combined that brought the weekend of competitions in Crans-Montana to a close. Finishing in fourth and fifth places, Michelle Gisin and Wendy Holdener were unable to fight for victory against Federica Brignone.

This fourth place is an excellent result for Michelle Gisin, who fell on Friday during the first downhill. “It wasn’t easy after my fall, it cost me a lot of energy. I cried all afternoon. It was very positive to let it all out, as I felt much better afterwards. So I’m really pleased with my result in the combined.” She missed out on a podium place by just 0.11, behind Ester Ledecka. Dit’s a shame for the Swiss skier who made a few little mistakes both in the morning Super-G and the slalom in the afternoon.

However she isn’t concerned about it. “I took too many risks, particularly in the Super-G, where I made a big mistake. So in the slalom, I wanted to attack, as that’s all there was to do. It’s a shame that I missed out on a podium place because of these mistakes, but the most important thing was to ski well, to attack and really go for it.”

Wendy Holdener: “I was hoping for much better”

Behind Michelle Gisin, Wendy Holdener had a very different view, and wasn’t satisfied with her performance at all. “My expectations were completely different”, confirms the double champion, who didn’t find the key to the discipline on the Mont Lachaux piste, having finished in third place in the combined in Crans-Montana last year.

“I need to analyse Federica (Brignone), to see what I can do better.”

On Sunday, Wendy Holdener already missed out in her Super-G, lagging one and a half seconds behind Brignone. A huge difference, when we know that the piste had already warmed by the slalom.

Video: Johan Tachet/SkiActu

 

 

 

22 Feb

The «White Circus » welcomes the «Jodelcircus»!

The sold-out Oesch’s die Dritten concert on Saturday night in Le Régent congress centre tennis centre was a huge success. The most popular folk music group in Switzerland impressed and thrilled some 1,000 spectators. Their style is a combination of tradition, charm and virtuosity, emphasised by the crystal-clear voice of Melanie, a real yodel virtuoso. Oesch’s die Dritten combines tradition and modernity like few other groups.

It is hardly possible to imagine the national or international folk music scene without the Oesch’s; Dad Hansueli, Mum Annemarie, and their three children, Mélanie, Kevin and Mike, and their accordianist, Urs Meier. One of the highlights of the evening was the performance of the World Cup Crans-Montana anthem, initiated by Hugo Steinegger and penned by Melanie. Les Amis de Sonville, an extremely friendly group from Nendaz, had the task of warming up the crowd. Which they did, very successfully ! Natal Borgeat, a skilled flag thrower, and an alphorn trio consisting of Edward Aymon, Victor Bonvin and Jean-Claude Rion brought a touch of the mountains to the evening.

Hugo Steinegger, Vice-President of the World Cup race committee  and organiser of the two musical performances at the ice rink and the tennis centre in Crans-Montana, has already promised that there will be another musical event during the next Ski World Cup.

Photos: Luciano Miglionico/DEPREZphoto sa, cransmontana

 

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 Video: Johan Tachet/SkiActu

 

22 Feb

Lara Gut-Behrami makes it two in a row,the globe for Corinne Suter

Another magnificent double for Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter in the second Crans-Montana Downhill. Thanks to her 2nd place, Suter also takes the crystal globe for the Downhill.

Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter are truly unstoppable in Crans-Montana. The day after their double in the first Downhill in the Haut-Plateau resort, the two Swiss did it again in the second race, delighting thousands of spectators.

With renewed confidence and skiing, another stunning performance from Lara Gut-Behrami gave her a second win in two days. This Valais win is the 26th in her career,  which places her alongside Tina Maze and Michela Figini, no less. It is the fourth time that the skier from Comano has managed a double in the same weekend, a feat that she hasn’t managed since December 2015, in Val d'Isère.  The fact that Lara Gut-Behrami has worked hard to regain her form after her knee injury in the Saint-Moritz Worlds in 2017, whilst she was on top form, shouldn't be forgotten.

A first downhill globe for Switzerland since 1991

It was a close call for the skier from Ticino to beat Corinne Suter again. Although she led by 0.80 on Friday, she was just 0.02 in front of her compatriot on Saturday.  Still, Corinne Suter will be enjoying this podium place, the 8th in her career, because it means that she has secured the downhill crystal globe. It’s now impossible for the Czech Ester Ledecka to catch up with her in the Downhill standing, with only one race left in Cortina.

For Corinne Suter, it’s a real achievement, after skyrocketing in the Worlds in Åre a year ago, and lining up the podium places in the speed disciplines since then. Free of any pressure, her results have been extremely consistent, enabling her to pick up the first downhill crystal globe for Switzerland since Chantal Bournissen in 1991.

The final podium place in the second downhill in Crans-Montana was taken by the surprising Austrian Nina Ortlieb, her first World Cup podium place. Patrick Ortlieb’s daughter was also close to the winning time, just 0.5 behind Lara Gut-Behrami.

DEPREZphoto sa, cransmontana/Agence Zoom

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 1st Lara Gut-Behrami/SUI
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 2nd Corinne Suter/SUI
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 3rd Nina Ortlieb/AUT
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A charming podium for the second Downhill on the programme.
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podium

 

Corinne Suter: “I’m very proud”

Thanks to her second place in the second Crans-Montana Downhill, Corinne Suter is sure of taking the Downhill crystal globe. The athlete from Schwyz was visibly extremely moved in the finish area. 

That’s it !  Corinne Suter is safe at the top of the World Cup Downhill standings. The world silver medallist has now secured the crystal globe in the discipline, as there is only one race left, in the Cortina d’Ampezzo finals. Switzerland has been waiting 29 years for another win, after Chantal Bournissen’s victory.

“It’s incredible, an immense joy, I’m so happy”, exclaimed the 25 year old. “I was stressed before the race, much more than usual. I wanted to validate my performance yesterday, and it went extremely well. I don’t think people were expecting to see two Swiss doubles in two days. It’s just wonderful.” Only 0.02 separated her from Lara Gut-Behrami, who was unstoppable on the Mont Lachaux piste.

Rewarded for consistency 

In this second Downhill in two days, Corinne Suter managed to ignore her fatigue: “I was exhausted today because I didn’t sleep very well, and yesterday was a very trying day. But I told myself that I had to give it my all for one and a half minutes. I really managed to control my race, it was great.”

Above all, this new podium place, the 6th in her last 10 World Cup Downhills, means that the crystal globe is hers, a reward for her progress over the last few months. “Managing to be so consistent over the whole season is incredible. I’m very proud.” She adds, “This Globe is a dream that in time became a goal.”

From now on, Corinne Suter can concentrate on chasing the Super-G crystal globe, as she is currently leading the standings. “I’m going to pursue the same course of action”, she promises. The next meet for her is next weekend, in La Thuile (ITA).

 

Video: Johan Tachet

 

 

 

 

 

21 Feb

A colourful ceremony launches the weekend

There was a huge turnout to celebrate the winners of the first downhill in Crans-Montana on Friday. Lara Gut-Behrami, Corinne Suter and co received their awards on the Ycoor ice rink, in front of hundreds of Swiss flags.

Afterwards, the ten best downhill skiers in the world took part in the bib draw for Saturday’s race. Arriving on stage by zip-line, they then selected their numbers for the race, whilst there was entertainment from a variety of artists. Musicians, dancers and magicians performed one after another on stage for the pleasure of the crowd.   

Rendez-vous Saturday from 10.30 onwards on the Mont-Lachaux piste for the second World Cup downhill of the year.

Vidéo: Johan Tachet/SkiActu

DEPREZphoto sa, cransmontana

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The proud podium for the downhill rescheduled from Rosa Khutor/RUS during the national anthem.
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Switzerland's Corinne Suter will be racing in bib number 3 on Saturday, in the second programmed downhill race.
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Big crowds came to celebrate the athletes at the Ycoor ceremonies

 

21 Feb

Incredible double Swiss podium in Crans-Montana!

Lara Gut-Behrami is back on the top step of the podium !  The skier from Ticino flew through the first downhill in Crans-Montana, beating Corinne Suter.

The celebrations were in full swing on Friday morning on the Haut-Plateau! While large crowds came to watch the downhill, transferred from Rosa Khutor (RUS), the Swiss provided the entertainment on the Mont Lachaux piste. And Lara Gut-Behrami was back on form, securing a prestigious win, her first in the Valais resort that aspires to host the World Championships in 2025. As for the Swiss, only Marie-Theres Nadighas has won here, back in 1981.

Above all, it is the first World Cup win in two years for the skier from Comano, who hasn’t had a win in downhill since 28 January 2017, before the serious injury to her left knee during the warm—up for the Worlds in Saint-Moritz. But in Friday’s sunshine, she flew through the downhill from start to finish, and did a perfect job of showing off her technical expertise on the demanding Valais piste. Lara Gut-Behrami took first place 0″80 in front of Corinne Suter.

Corinne Suter heading for the Globe

The 25 year old athlete from Schwyz made a few mistakes, which ultimately cost her the victory. However she ensured that Switzerland ended up with a double win, the first in the women’s races since 9 December 2017 in Saint-Moritz (Jasmine Flury and Michelle Gisin), also securing an excellent result inher race towards the crystal globe in the discipline. She will have the opportunity to seize it on Saturday, in the second downhill on the Haut-Plateau. The downhill vice world champion is 120 points ahead of the Czech Ester Ledecka (11th place on Friday), and there are only two downhill races left this winter.  

It should also be noted that although the Austrian Stephanie Venier took the third podium place on Friday,  Joana Hählen completed the excellent Swiss result.  Despite a few scares, particularly at the top of the course, she managed a sound 7th place, alongside Federica Brignone, who is catching up to Mikaela Shiffrin, who is absent, in the overall World Cup ranking. Finally, Michelle Gisin and Jasmine Flury did not finish.  

DEPREZphoto sa, cransmontana/Agence Zoom

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1st Lara Gut-Behrami/SUI
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2nd Corinne Suter/SUI
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3rd Stephanie Venier/AUT
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4th Petra Vlhova/SVK
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5th Breezy Johnson/USA
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Lara Gut-Behrami: “I skied without thinking”

Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter savour their double podium in Crans-Montana. The two Swiss analyse their performance on the Mont Lachaux piste.

On the podium in Crans-Montana, with the sound of the Swiss national hymn in the air and Swiss flags blowing in Valais’ azure blue sky,  Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter, winner and runner-up in the first Crans-Montana downhill,  naturally appeared to be delighted. The two Swiss athletes demonstrated their class on the Mont-Lachaux piste, which many see as the most difficult piste on the circuit.

Lara Gut-Behrami, on the top step of the podium, is relishing the moment. Beating Corinne Suter by 0.80 seconds, she has just proved something, even if she doesn’t dare to use the term.  “We often talk about proof or satisfaction after difficult times, but today I simply managed to do what I set out to do”, she adds. The skier from Ticino has been waiting for over two years for success in the World Cup.  Since her knee injury during the Saint-Moritz Worlds in 2017, the skier from Comano has been chasing her former skiing prowess, which had enabled her to monopolise podiums previously. “It wasn’t easy to find the solution.  I have a tendancy to overthink.”

On Friday in Crans-Montana, it was exactly the opposite that happened for Lara Gut-Behrami, who skied “without thinking”. “It was straightforward, fluid.  When you ski the line , when you’re active, it’s possible to achieve this kind of result”, she smiles, while remaining lucid. “It takes time, sometimes years, to find this feeling again. But that’s not to say that I’ll manage to repeat this kind of performance every weekend, or that I’ll win races by two seconds. But I’m regaining fluidity again, so that I’ll be faster in all situations, to be able to compete against the best. ”

Corinne Suter: “I’m trying not to think about the Globe”

Behind Lara, Corinne Suter is also delighted with her 2nd place, a year after her first podium place in the World Cup on this same Mont Lachaux piste. “Crans-Montana works pretty well for me”, she says with a huge smile, on the podium for the 7th time in her career.  “When I crossed the finish line, it was a really special feeling. I felt good on the piste,” she added.

With this 2nd place, Corinne Suter takes a huge step towards the downhill Globe. She is now 120 points in front of Czech Ester Ledecka. With two races left in the discipline, including the second downhill in Crans-Montana, Suter could be crowned tomorrow on the Haut-Plateau. “But I’m trying not to pay too much attention to it, even if the Globe is in the back of my mind. However I don’t want to put myself under pressure, as that would be counter-productive.” Especially since she felt “nervous” today before the start of the race. “There are a lot of people, and I want to go fast.”

Video: Johan Tachet/SkiActu

 

20 Feb

The double Olympic champion Michaela Dorfmeister returns to Crans-Montana

The FIS technical delegate for the World Cup races in Crans-Montana, Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister, returns to the White Circus. The double Olympic champion, in downhill and Super-G in 2006/Turin, and also double world champion in downhill in 2001/St. Anton and Super-G in 2003/St. Moritz, evokes in this video her contrasting memories on the Valais Haut-Plateau.

Video (in German only): Laurent Morel/SkiActu