Chomping at the bit or relieved to have an extra week’s training? Those are likely the two camps the Alpine snowboarders fell into after the first World Cup event of the 2022/23 season was postponed due to a lack of snow.
Competition in Livigno (ITA), which will host snowboard and freestyle skiing at the Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games, was moved from 3-4 December 2022 to 7-8 March 2023. The rescheduled event takes place one week after the 2023 FIS Snowboard, Freestyleand FreeskiWorld Championships, which run 19 February to 5 March in Bakuriani, Georgia.
The season will now be bookended by World Cup events in Germany, with the opener in Winterberg on 10-11 December and the final showdown in Berchtesgaden over the weekend of 18-19 March 2023.
In between, the tour heads to Italy four times and once each to Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Canada, and Slovenia for a total of 11 stops. Eighteen events will be hosted, comprising four parallel slalom team competitions, six parallel slaloms and eight parallel giant slaloms.
With the world’s best slalom snowboarders raring to go edge-to-edge, who are the ones to watch?
Germany’s Hofmeister resumes rivalry with Ledecka (CZE)
Happy to be starting on home snow, defending overall parallel World Cup winner Ramona Theresia Hofmeister (GER) will be hoping for a strong start in Winterberg as she bids to secure a fourth consecutive overall title. If the 26-year-old manages the feat, she will match the achievement of history-making dual snowboard-ski athlete Ester Ledecka (CZE), who took the title between 2016 and 2019.
The Czech athlete, who stunned the world – and herself – when she won Olympic gold in both Alpine skiing (super-G) and snowboarding (parallel giant slalom) at PyeongChang 2018, defending the latter title at Beijing 2022. Ledecka will again compete in both sports this time round.
Focused on skiing last season, Ledecka took part in only two Alpine snowboard events in 2021/22, claiming first and second place. She will be favourite for any event she enters this year, and is likely to add to her two World Championship golds and one silver.
The 27-year-old may be a slow starter, however, due to ongoing recovery from surgery after breaking her collarbone in the summer. Ledecka returned to training only in mid-October, so adding to her seven Alpine snowboard World Cup titles, which also include three parallel giant slalom globes, may be a challenge.
Hofmeister, an Olympic bronze medallist at PyeongChang 2018, will also be looking for a quartet of crystal globe wins in her favoured discipline of parallel giant slalom, having claimed a third in a row in March.
Zogg striving for the summit as Ulbing and Tsubaki emerge
Switzerland’s Julie Zogg will be hoping to go one better in the overall rankings after coming second to Hofmeister last season. The veteran snowboarder, who debuted at the World Cup in December 2007, bagged her fourth consecutive – and career’s fifth – parallel slalom World Cup title following three victories in four competitions in 2021/22. It wasn’t enough to claim the grand prize, however, which she won for the only time in 2014/15.
Austria’s Daniela Ulbing, third overall in 2021/22 and silver medallist in parallel giant slalom at Beijing 2022, is also one to watch, as is the Japanese teenager, Tsubaki Miki. The 19-year-old claimed three podiums during the last campaign, the first in her four World Cup seasons, including beating Hofmeister and Zogg to top the table in the parallel slalom in Piancavallo (ITA) in March.
History-maker Lee returns as Baumeister seeks podium’s top step
Lee Sangho made history for Republic of Korea in Alpine snowboard last season by claiming the first overall title in either men’s or women’s disciplines for his nation.
The 2018 Olympic silver medallist’s all-round performance proved decisive, with second-place finishes in both the parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom.
The 27-year-old will again be one to watch but he will be chased hard for the overall accolade by Germany’s Stefan Baumeister. The best of last season’s parallel giant slalom athletes, Baumeister claimed silver in the overall rankings for the second time, matching his 2020 result. Will it be third time lucky this time around?
Serial winners from Italy and Austria gunning for more glory
Third-placed in 2021/22, Edwin Coratti (ITA) heads into the fray hoping to continue the run of at least one Italian making the overall podium in 10 of the past 12 seasons. Also vying for individual honours will be compatriots Roland Fischnaller, the 42-year-old eight-time podium placer and 2020 winner, and Aaron March, who triumphed a year later.
Andreas Prommegger heads into another World Cup season having made his debut in 1997. The 42-year-old is one of four Austrian snowboarders with nine overall titles between them, including seven won consecutively between 2008 and 2014.
Prommegger, who won the most recent of those titles in 2017, leads the Austrian charge with another veteran, Benjamin Karl, himself the winner of three overall crystal globes, five world championships and three Olympic medals, including gold in parallel giant slalom at Beijing 2022.
Both will be joined by the ever-improving Arvid Auner, who claimed third place overall in parallel slalom last season.
So close was the racing last season that Prommegger and Coratti tied for top spot in the final parallel slalom individual World Cup race in Berchtesgaden. A rare occurrence, this is only the second time this has ever happened in the men’s event: the first featured Karl and Marco Felicatti (ITA) in 2020.
The first ever tie in a women’s race occurred at the end of last season, when Zogg and Tsubaki couldn’t be separated in Piancavallo, Italy.
Team races kick off and conclude in Germany
The first of the team competitions takes place on the opening weekend of the season, in Winterberg (GER). Following events take place in Bad Gastein (AUT, 11 January), Piancavallo (ITA, 12 March) and Berchtesgaden (GER, 19 March).
Austria won last season’s overall team classification courtesy of Sabine Schoeffmann and Alexander Payer, while Julia Dujmovits and Auner, and Ulbing and Karl, completed an all-Austrian podium.