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Red Bull SuperSkicross propelled itself back into the global sporting consciousness on March 25-26 when the world’s best ski cross racers launched themselves down a thrilling and visually satisfying course in the Swiss resort of Andermatt.
After a successful 2021 edition where Canadian Reece Howden and Sweden’s Sandra Naeslund won on the 1km Gemsstock track, 2022 saw nine shapers from Schneestern, two snow groomer drivers and an excavator driver take 19 days to create 14 obstacles on two different lines.
The top men and women on the current FIS Ski Cross World Cup circuit lined up on the Gurschen piste deciding themselves which line to ski in the classic knock-out system with groups of four skiers competing against one another, and the two fastest qualifying for the next round.
With spectacular spring weather gracing the slopes, the skiers launched off the big jump with them needing all their skills to navigate the double turn, crown section, negative turn, road gap and roof ride.
Alex Fiva, who went really big off the jump, declared: “The first turn was awesome; you had enough space to ski different lines. I had to overtake at the crown, and I managed to do it.”
Naeslund and Frenchman Bastien Midol were the fastest during their respective Friday time trials as the skiers battled hard all the way down the course only to be separated at times by tenths of a second.
The men’s quarter-finals produced some shocks as Beijing gold medallist and World Cup champion Ryan Regez was ousted along with Swiss compatriot Marc Bischofberger, last year’s second runner-up.
Midol was forced to take his chance on the silver line in the semi-finals after a poor start and was rewarded with a solo sprint to the line that earned him second and a place in the men’s final.
It was the reigning champion Howden, though, who kept his composure to defend his title with Swiss Fiva following him home in second, compatriot Jonas Lenherr placing third and Midol fourth.
Howden, 23, revealed: “This win means a lot to me. Compared to last winter, my year was quite hard. That’s why it’s great to end the season with some wins.”
In the women’s semi-finals, Switzerland’s Fanny Smith took on the entire Canadian team including three-time overall World Cup champion and recent Beijing silver medallist, Marielle Thompson.
Smith, 29, explained: “Here, it’s completely different for us. It’s a real ski cross, the way we love it. It’s wonderful to end the season with the best event of the year.”
Both made it through to the women’s final where Naeslund defended her title like Howden as Smith edged out Thompson for second place and Austrian Katrin Ofner ended the event in fourth spot.
Naeslund, 25, said: “It’s cool to be able to choose between the two lines. It’s a great season-ending. I hope to be able to come again next year.”
Men’s final result
1. Reece Howden (Canada)
2. Alex Fiva (Switzerland)
3. Jonas Lenherr (Switzerland)
4. Bastien Midol (France)
Women’s final result
1. Sandra Naeslund (Sweden)
2. Fanny Smith (Switzerland)
3. Marielle Thompson (Canada)
4. Katrin Ofner (Austria)
Watch the full replay on Red Bull TV.