First class anniversary edition
And this was this year's anniversary edition on the Saslong. The fiftieth World Cup races in Val Gardena/Gröden have entered the history books. Organizers, FIS and athletes can look back on a successful race week featuring a spectacular anniversary show, stubborn fog, a historic Super-G win and an extraordinary six-time winner in lead roles.
14,000 spectators came to Val Gardena/Gröden on the two days of the race to experience the anniversary races on Friday and Saturday. The race week was officially opened on Tuesday evening with the team captains meeting by the President of the Organizing Committee, Rainer Senoner.
The first training started on Wednesday, with a half hour delay and from the Super-G start, because the track in the upper part of the racetrack had softened due to overnight snowfall. Training’s fastest at the first training was American Jared Goldberg.
Constant interruptions due to the fog also made the second downhill training somewhat difficult. The fog bank regressed over time, and the training could be completed late, but as planned. The fastest in the second training was Austrian Matthias Meyer.
Sensational victory in the fog
The onset of light snowfall from Friday morning made the racetrack for the Super-G race a bit slower. Due to the weather, the Super-G was not an easy race. Ever-increasing fog forced several interruptions of the race and it was ultimately cancelled after 38 racers as no weather improvement was in sight. The German Josef Ferstl claimed victory of this year's Super-G. This is the first downhill gold for Germany in 26 years. Behind him placed the two Austrians Max Franz and Matthias Meyer.
Happy birthday, World Cup Val Gardena/Gröden!
On Friday evening the 50th anniversary celebration took place in the finish area. "The Saslong is like coming home for me," says four-time Saslong downhill winner, Franz Klammer. He was one of the former athletes who told of his experiences on the Saslong as part of the anniversary show. Pirmin Zurbriggen, Bernhard Russi, Ulli Spieß, Herbert Plank, Franz Klammer and Gustav Thöni also talked about what the Saslong means for them on the stage, which was set up specifically in the finish area. The show was conducted by Italian presenter Ivana Vaccari and broadcast on "Rai Sport TV". Around a thousand spectators were impressed by the pantomime, dance groups, wizards, acrobats, singers and ski instructors.
There were bright sunshine and perfect condition for the downhill on Saturday, when the sun was competing with a beaming six-time Salsong winner Aksel Lund Svindal. The ski world is bowing down to a legend: Aksel Lund Svindal showed his dominance for the sixth time on the Saslong. With a lead of 0.59 seconds over his team-mate Kjetil Jansrud, Svindal placed at the top of the podium with bib number 13 - It seems as if the Norwegians have the winning recipe to be fast on the Saslong: they have claimed seven of the last 12 races here in Val Gardena/Gröden. Last year's winner Max Franz from Austria finished third place completing the anniversary podium. Breathtaking pictures went from Val Gardena to the whole world - the Saslong could not have wished for a better end to its 50th anniversary.