The FIS praises the work done by Grandvalira and says that the Finals have even exceeded expectations and that Andorra is on the right track to host a World Championships
The best skier in history, Mikaela Shiffrin, finished off a record-breaking season with a victory in the Slalom race at the Grandvalira World Cup Finals. The American lifted the Overall Crystal Globe in Soldeu this Sunday. This is the 5th of her career, with a total of 2,206 points, thus breaking her own record by a margin of only two points, which she has held since achieving it in 2019 in Soldeu.
Shiffrin went into Sunday’s race with the Crystal Globe for the Giant Slalom category assured, a prize she hadn’t won since 2019 in Soldeu (similar to the prize for the Slalom that she picked up on Saturday). Despite having it in the bag, the skier appeared unbeatable and ended up taking the race victory, which she dominated after the first run. With this win she now has 21 victories in GS to her name, recording a new milestone on the Avet course: she is the skier with the most Giant Slalom victories in World Cup history. The American is left with some fantastic moments experienced this season, but she remarked that she wants to keep her "feet on the ground" to get back to training. "I'm not sure if there will be other records or what might happen, but I'm ready to work and fight to be at the top on the podium."
Second and third place in the category were decided by the results in this race. Six skiers were vying for these places, but in the end, the first run determined the final standings, with Petra Vlhova, Frederica Brignone and Sara Hector each being disqualified. Given these results, the podium in the overall Giant Slalom was complete, with the Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami in second position and the Italian racer Marta Bassino in third. Regarding the result of the competition staged in Andorra, the Norwegian Thea Louise Stjernesund took second position, managing to produce a great performance finishing only six hundredths of a second behind Shiffrin, and the Canadian Valérie Grenier finished in third.
The final day of the alpine skiing event in Andorra also marks the end of French skier Tessa Worley’s racing career. The skier retires at the age of 33 having won two Crystal Globes in her time in the sport in the Giant Slalom category and with 16 victories in total. The ski racer underlined that her Finals here in Andorra "were great. We French feel at home here and I noticed that many people came to support me. The public have been with me until the last swan song of my career."
Crystal Globe in SL for Lucas Braathen
The Men's Slalom was one of the most closely contested competitions of the week, as it was the one decided by whoever won that discipline. In the end, the Norwegian racer Lucas Braathen took it, even though the race on the Avet course was won by Swiss racer Ramon Zenhaeusern after a thrilling final duel in which he edged out the Norwegian by only six hundredths. In third spot was another Norwegian racer Henrik Kristoffersen, while Swiss racer Daniel Yule, who was also in the running for the Crystal Globe, fell on the second run. In the overall standings in Slalom, Kristoffersen came in second position and Zenhaeusern took third, making it onto the podium thanks to Sunday's victory.
Lucas Braathen, who secured the first Crystal Globe of his career in Soldeu, was left speechless after lifting the trophy: “I don't know what to say. The tough moments and the good moments that I have experienced come to mind; all the friends and family that have been at my side, and in particular my father. Now, I just want to return home to share it with them.” For his part, Zenhaeusern was also thrilled at having been able to finish the season with a win, having started in 25th position. He also hailed the slopes and infrastructure in the ski area and said that he would love to finish his career at a World Championships in Andorra in 2029.
Further organisational success endorsed by the FIS
Andorra has once again demonstrated its ability to organise sporting events of the highest level. Ski racers, coaches and heads of the International Ski Federation (FIS) once again acknowledged the excellent work done at the Grandvalira Alpine Ski World Cup Finals.
FIS General Secretary Michel Vion confirmed that the 2023 Andorra Finals "have even exceeded the expectations that we had when we decided to return." "It has been a great week, with a new challenge every day, with very good competitions and a very good atmosphere: you have done an excellent job." Regarding the candidacy for the 2029 World Championships, Vion stated that the Finals have been "the best opportunity to show what you are able to do", and he encouraged the ski station to "continue progressing and to be prepared", as this is an event "ten times bigger a Finals."
Markus Waldner, Director of the Men's World Cup, stated that "you can be very proud because once again the organising committee has shown themselves to be able to host events of the highest level", and he added that "you have all the right ingredients to clinch a World Championships". In fact, Waldner praised not only the Hospitality team, "where you set the bar very high indeed", but also the courses and professionalism of the technical team and every one of the volunteers, "that despite the challenges that the weather brought, you prepared courses of the highest level."
For his part, the incumbent Prime Minister of Andorra, Xavier Espot, praised "once again the ability to organise an event and to welcome people". He gave a special thank you to the volunteers and said he was happy “to do our bit from the government to make this event possible that has an enormous impact from an economic, social and media perspective." He also said that "after these second World Cup Finals we are scoring points towards this major milestone we have planned, the celebration of the World Championships in 2029."
More than 6,000 spectators on both Saturday and Sunday
Pending the final tallies, the Head of the Finals 2023, David Hidalgo, highlighted that the Sold-out poster was put up on every day of the competitions. He also announced that the figure of 6,000 spectators was exceeded both on Saturday and on Sunday, “spectacular” figures and "a demonstration of society's response to a sport as important as skiing." Hidalgo said that the assessment of the Finals was "excellent" and that "we have even outdone ourselves when compared to 2019", as "the comments from everyone have been unanimously in praise of the event. Therefore, it is a collective success, for all Andorra, and now we must continue to work to achieve even more ambitious goals."