2020: Val Gardena/Gröden inspires the entire ski circuit once again
Despite all that is going on, everything was ready in Val Gardena/Gröden shortly before Christmas for a spectacular World Cup weekend at the foot of the Sassolungo/Langkofel mountain. The Saslong Classic Club around President Rainer Senoner provided flawlessly organized races in its usual professional manner and offered athletes, staff and journalists a safe working environment thanks to a well thought-out preparation.
The weather cooperated perfectly this time
From a sporting point of view, the Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde outdid the competition on the Saslong and snatched victory in both events. Unlike last year, the weather in 2020 did not get in the way - both super-G and downhill were able to be held regularly and in fantastic outside conditions.
The race week in Val Gardena/Gröden, which was held in front of empty stands due to the pandemic, opened with the first downhill training on Wednesday. On a shortened course - the start was from the super-G start - Jared Goldberg from the US set a somewhat surprising first mark clocking the best time. In the second training session on Thursday, which could be run on the original course, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde from Norway dominated slipping into the role of favorite for the classic on Saturday.
Aleksander Aamodt Kilde out-skies everyone
The first World Cup points were finally at stake in the super-G on Friday. Kilde was unbeatable thanks to a flawless run and celebrated his second victory on the venerable Saslong two years after his downhill triumph. Behind the winner of the overall World Cup 2019/20, the leader of the discipline ranking, Mauro Caviezel from Switzerland, and his Norwegian teammate Kjetil Jansrud lined up in second and third place. While Kilde, with his 1st place, joined the illustrious circle of racers who won both the downhill and the super-G in Val Gardena/Gröden, it was Jansrud’s tenth time climbing on the podium at the foot of the Sassolungo/Langkofel mountain.
Kilde flexed his muscles once again in Saturday's downhill classic, snatching his second Saslong downhill victory after 2018. With his latest triumph, the 28-year-old Scandinavian also followed in the footsteps of his compatriot Aksel Lund Svindal, who in 2015 was the only athlete to date to win both Val Gardena/Gröden speed events in the same year. The downhill podium was rounded out by the surprisingly strong performance of Ryan Cochran-Siegle from the US with his first top-three finish in the World Cup and Beat Feuz from Switzerland.
"Saslong overall victory" as additional reward for Kilde
As the winner of the Super-G and the Downhill, Kilde also crowned himself the clear recipient of the DOLOMITES Val Gardena Südtirol Ski Trophy. The special prize, which was developed by the Organizing Committee of the Saslong Classic in cooperation with DOLOMITES Val Gardena Marketing, awarded this year for the first time the athlete with the most World Cup points of the Val Gardena/Gröden race week. Kilde came out on top with 200 points, ahead of Ryan Cochran-Siegle (112) and Kjetil Jansrud (110), and was able to look forward to an original 3D wooden bust, as well as additional prize money in the amount of 5,000 euros and a short vacation in Val Gardena/Gröden.