Excitement is growing daily before the first event of the 2017/18 Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup season – and the opening event of the 2017 Cross Alps Tour – gets underway with back-to-back races on 8 & 9 December in Val Thorens (FRA).
Expectations are high for this season’s Cross Alps Tour after last winter’s inaugural version of the “tour within a tour” was a resounding success. Featuring six competitions at four resorts packed into just over two weeks of December, the 2016 Cross Alps Tour raised the stakes and the drama right out of the gate for the ski cross World Cup
Once again the Cross Alps Tour will make it’s way east across the Alps, beginning in Val Thorens, then on to Arosa (SUI) for a sprint-style night event, then on to Montafon’s (AUT) towering peaks, before finally wrapping up the 1000km, 16-day journey with a pair of races in Innichen/San Candido (ITA).
New for this season’s Cross Alps Tour is a cash prize of €5000, provided by the organizers from Val Thorens, Arosa, and Innichen/San Candido and set to be awarded along with the Cross Alps Tour trophy to the top female and male competitors after the Tour’s final competition in Innichen/San Candido on 22 December.
With the CAT’s six competitions representing half of the World Cup points up for grabs in 2017/18, and a big money cash prize on the line for the top athletes, there’s no doubt that the intensity for this season’s Tour will be even higher than what we saw last year.
World’s top SX athletes ready to roll
With last year’s Cross Alps Tour winner Marielle Thompson (CAN) out with a knee injury, the top names expected to vie for top spot on the ladies’ side this December include Sierra Nevada 2017 world champion and 2016/17 second overall racer Sandra Naeslund (SWE), Voss 2013 world champion and 2012/13 crystal globe winner Fanny Smith (SUI), Kreischberg 2015 world champion Andrea Limbacher (AUT), five-time World Cup winner Heidi Zacher (GER), and speedster Georgia Simmerling (CAN), among others.
Over on the men’s side, last year’s Cross Alps Tour champion, three-time crystal globe winner, and reigning Olympic champion Jean Frederic Chapuis (FRA) can expect to see his toughest competition from the likes of 2016/17 second overall competitor Brady Leman (CAN), Sierra Nevada 2017 world champion and 2013/14 crystal globe winner Victor Oehling Norberg (SWE), Kreischberg 2015 world champion and 2011/12 crystal globe winner Filip Flisar (SLO), or any range of capable athletes ranging from Swiss veteran Alex Fiva to French newcomer Francois Place.
Watch out for the British racers competing this year: Emily Sarsfield, Pamela Thorburn, Liz Stephensen and hopefully Emma Peters with score enough points on the Europa Cup tour to get a start. Ollie Davies will also be looking to make the move up to the World Cup as well this season.
Early season weather conditions in Europe have been extremely favourable up to this point, ensuring that the complex course builds now in process will have plenty of snow to work with for the six CAT competitions.
With all the pieces in place and the best ski cross athletes from around the world now descending on France, it’s time to get the 2017 Audi FIS Cross Alps Tour on the road.