Report by Eric Carter, edits by Stano Faban, all photos by ISMF.
The Prato Nevoso venue for the World Cup finals was an exciting one. Being very close to the Mediterranean Sea in the very southern alps, it has a very coastal snowpack. The day before we arrived, a storm dropped 3+ feet of heavy wet snow on the entire region so while previewing the course on Thursday we had to ski through deep slush. Luckily, the temps overnight were just cool enough to allow the snow to solidify.
Vertical raceFriday morning featured a vertical race of approximately 700 meters. The men’s race started fast right off the line and up a steep groomer with the Italian Damiano Lenzi pushing the pace. Midway through the course, when the grade kicked up, Kilian Jornet (ESP) attacked the Italian and was only matched by espoir Anton Palzer (GER), fresh back from an ankle injury. In the final 200 meters, Palzer attacked and gaped Jornet, and held on to the lead to the finish. Despite the lose, Jornet managed win the Vertical World Cup title.
Nick Elson (CAN) led the North American contingent with a 22nd place, with Eric Carter (USA) coming just behind in 25th.
In the women’s race, Laetitia Roux (FRA) was pushed by the 2015 Vertical World Champion Laura Orgue (ESP) but managed to hold on to the lead and the Vertical Cup title. Behind Roux and Orgue, Emelie Forsberg (SWE) took the bronze.
The individual course on Saturday was shortened slightly due to avalanche conditions. At approximately 1550m of climbing, the course was slightly shorter than most World Cups this season but had a significant distance covered and the times for completion were similar to other races.
The race started fast with the Italians pushing the pace early like in the vertical. The race led through the Prato Nevoso ski resort and then onto the south-east ridge of Mont Mondole. This time Matteo Eydallin (ITA) took the victory in front of his teams race partner, Damiano Lenzi, and William Bon Mardion (FRA).
Canadian Nick Elson skied strongly throughout the race but an unfortunate crash near the finish dropped him to 30th place. Eric Carter (USA) had a solid race as well and finished in 36th. Melanie Bernier (CAN) placed 8th in the women’s race, again dominated by Laetitia Roux of France.
The weekend concluded with an exciting sprint event on Sunday on the lower slopes of Prato Nevoso. The ascent portion was steep and long and featured icy switchbacks. The descent was off-piste with breakable crust and ice and made racers very nervous before starting the qualifying rounds.
Damiano Lenzi (ITA), one of the favourites, took a big fall warming up and walked away with a bloody nose. Philipp Schaedler (GER), fresh off his visit to Canada, threw down a strong qualifying time but was eliminated from the quarter-finals when he botched the skins-to-bootpack transition.
The Germans and Italians battled throughout the day with the overall sprint cup on the line. Michelle Boscacci (ITA) survived through the heats unscathed and managed to gain a healthy lead along with Roberto Antonioli (ITA) to hold off the screaming descender William Bon Mardion (FRA). With Boscacci taking the day, the Sprint World Cup title was awarded to Antonioli.
Laetitia Roux skied head and shoulders above her competition through the heats and took a commanding lead to the finish in the finals, also taking the overall in the World Cup. Melanie Bernier was eliminated from a strong semi-final heat that included Roux, Forsberg (SWE – 3rd), and Malene Haukøy (NOR – 6th).
» Full results from all 3 races can be found on ISMF website, however, they are not complete.