Full speed ahead right before Christmas
Five days before Christmas – on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 – the attention of winter sport enthusiasts all over the globe will be focused on the traditional European Cup Slalom held in Obereggen. Like in previous competitions, this year, too, a veritable host of World Cup stars will be on hand for the festivities. That's because Obereggen is an extremely convenient venue – situated as it between the two World Cup stations of Alta Badia and Madonna di Campiglio. And the timing couldn't be better, as it allows the elite to really "show their stuff" before embarking on a well-deserved Christmas break.
Another reason to make a quick side-trip to Obereggen is the Maierl Slope. In 2016, it took over for the Oberholz Slope as the home for this racing event. Since then, it has acquired quite the reputation as a fitting successor more than worthy of the high-class talent that will be competing here. The past two years have demonstrated that the Maierl Slope (with a maximum steepness of 55%) is a formidable challenge for world-class slalom racers.
It is the appropriate racing course for a station of the European Cup, and has already been referred to as the "Kitzbühel of the European Cups." To put it plainly: This is no ordinary European Cup. First of all, with a history stretching back 35 years to 1983, it represents the longest-standing European Cup of them all in the whole ski circus. Secondly: Each year Obereggen is home to a "half World Cup" – that's because more World Cup stars line up to compete here than in practically any other European Cup race. And thirdly: Obereggen is also a venue with guaranteed racing. Since the first race held back in 1983, the event has been cancelled due to weather only twice – the last time, 18 years ago (in 2000). You'll be hard pressed to find such an unbroken series among the World and European Cups.
Tuesday, 18th December 2018
19.00 Athletes arrival in Obereggen
20.00 Team captain meeting at the “Platzl”
Wednesday, 19th December 2018
08.30 - 09.10 Reconnaissance of the “Maierl” slope
Start European Cup Men's Slalom
1st heat: 10.10 (Live on TV "RaiSport")
2nd heat: 13.10 (Live on TV "RaiSport")
15:00 Awards at the valley station
16.00 Presentation to those placed
That was European Cup Obereggen 2017
In December, the 24-year-old Croatian Matej Vidovic won the traditional European Cup Slalom in Obereggen – and then advanced to become the European Cup top scorer. He had led at half-time, but achieved only the twentieth-best time during the second half – yet that was enough to beat the Austrian Marc Digruber and the 20-year-old Frenchman Noel Clement, who thus had to be satisfied with Second and Third Place, respectively.
The twenty-two-year-old "Azzurro" Federico Liberatore, who (with starting number 1) was in thirtieth place by the conclusion of half-time, achieved the best time during the second round, and was thus able to parley that into an overall Eighth Place. He was thus the Italian team's leading contender. The second-best "Azzurro" was Riccardo Tonetti (from Bozen / Bolzano), who had learned to ski in Obereggen and was thus competing on his "home turf," so to speak. Though he came in only twentieth during the first half, he improved his performance during the second round, coming in third best, to earn an overall position of Twelfth Place.
Former Olympic winner Giuliano Razzoli, who had won in Obereggen in 2009, finished the first round with a disappointing Forty-seventh Place, and didn't place at all in the second half.
The organizers crowded around OK Head and Director of Racing Eduard "Edi" Pichler had good cause to be fully satisfied. Considering the abruptly shifting weather which had characterized the preceding days – with rain at up to 2,000 meters above sea-level – the Maierl Slope was in tip-top condition. Thus, Riccardo Tonetti (starting number 49) earned Twelfth Place and the Austrian Simon Rüland (starting number 53) came in at fourteenth. All in all, 104 athletes met at the starting line.
Photo: 1. Matej Vidovic (CRO), 2. Marc Digruber (AUT), 3. Noel Clement (FRA)