The world’s best skiers competed on a slope in the centre of Munich. The top 15 men & women were in a dual slalom with World Cup points at stake. It is an attempt to boost interest in ski racing and was by all accounts a success. Bode Miller had other thoughts.
25,000 people turned out to watch the competition and it was a party atmosphere under the floodlights with music, special affects, lights and more than a bit of razzamatazz.
There are fears that interest in traditional ski competitions might be fading.
The success of skier cross, boardercross and events like slopestyle and the superpipe has led organsisers to look at ways of popularising ski racing.
Hence the decision to bring the best skiers in the world to a city centre to race on man-made snow.
Walchhhofer, Ligerty, Miller, Svindal, Janka, Cuche, Vonn, Riesch, Mancuso and Zurbriggen were all there.
It took place in The Olympic Park and for the record the men’s event was won by Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic and the women’s race by Maria Pietilae-Holmner from Sweden.
They skied down a 200 metre course with 20 gates to negotiate.
Kostelic beat the Frenchman, Julien Lizeroux, in the final and Bode Miller came third.
In the women’s competition Tina Maze, from Slovenia, reached the final but came second. Both Lindsey Vonn and Maria Riesch crashed out.
But the significance of the events is not so much who won and lost but the fact that they took place at all.
Here’s what it looked like, along with comments from some competitors:
The US Ski Team men’s Head Coach, Sasha Rearick, also endorsed the event.
“This is a tremendous promotion for the sport and the athletes enjoyed doing it and it’s good to see that we’re bringing the World Cup to large cities,” said Rearick. “Hopefully we have got some new fans today.”
However not everyone was quite so enthusiastic.
Bode Miller had some reservations.
“I genuinely hope it’s not the future of ski racing. It’s a good component of the season to build interest, to bring ski racing to a city and it’s really positive. But there’s no way you can call a season of this World Cup,” Miller is quoted in the US press as saying after the event.
“We need to move in the opposite direction. This is for show. To balance this you need the longest, most challenging and difficult hills as well.” The dual slalom now moves on to Zagreb, Croatia, later this week.
The event is similar to the snowboarding events that have taken place in cities around the world.
The first one this season was held at Battersea in London and once again proved a huge success with 20,000 people turning out.