One favorite is missing: Kjetil Jansrud is the big absentee
When the “crème de la crème” of the international ski circuit fights for World Cup points at the foot of the Sassolungo/Langkofel mountain on Friday and Saturday, one of their biggest players will unfortunately not be at the start: Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud suffered a serious knee injury at the beginning of December and is relegated to participate as a spectator at the 54th edition of the Saslong Classic.
It was December 3, 2021, when Jansrud lost control of his skis in the super-G in Beaver Creek crashing into the safety nets at high speed. In the fateful fall, the veteran's knee was badly compromised, bringing this season to a premature end before it even had begun. With Jansrud, the race week in Val Gardena/Gröden will have to do without one of the top favorites to win a podium. The 36-year-old was - just like many of his Norwegian teammates - a proven Saslong specialist and collected countless top places in the speed events in South Tyrol. The Scandinavian took two victories, a total of eleven podium places and 15 results in the top five in Val Gardena/Gröden over the years - a phenomenal record in 21 starts.
Hoping for a return in 2022
The great affinity that Jansrud has for the Saslong also means it represents something special for the Norwegian: "I always enjoy coming to Val Gardena/Gröden. The Saslong is one of my favorite courses and every year I look forward to competing in front of this unique mountain backdrop," he once said. Jansrud was and is always a welcome guest in South Tyrol - the Norwegian has always been regarded as a fair sportsman with a like-able disposition who has stayed grounded despite his many successes.
However, it is uncertain whether Jansrud will return to Val Gardena/Gröden once again. In the summer, the 2014 Olympic super-G champion announced that he would hang up his skis after this season. But if his latest statements after the injury diagnosis are to be believed, this year's World Cup winter will probably not be his last after all. In South Tyrol - and probably far beyond - a comeback by Jansrud would in any case be great news and very welcome.