What a season, what a thrilling battle for the big crystal bowl! Following the World Cup season’s abrupt end we have a worthy overall winner: Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is the world’s best ski racer. Sure, there’s more important things going on in the world right now, as he stated in his post right after the season had officially wrapped: to do whatever we can to overcome the coronavirus crisis and keep people safe and healthy. Still, this title is a childhood dream come true for Aleks. He is now one of the ten big names in ski racing who have won the men’s big crystal bowl 22 times in the last 24 years – all on Atomic!
The season has been going on for a long time, its end is unpredictable in light of the coronavirus, yet the Atomic athletes are unimpressed and in top form. Atomic superstar Simen Hegstad Krueger showed a season-best performance in the 50 km Classic mass start race at Holmenkollen near Oslo, finishing 2nd and missing the victory by a mere 0.9 seconds. And next gen Redster racer Hugo Lapalus, who had consistently been strong in the World Cup, crowned his successful season with the bronze medal in the 15 km Classic event at the U23 World Championships. Redster Nordic Combined athlete Fabian Rießle secured place 2 in the season’s last race, landing in 5th position in the overall World Cup.
The final stages of the 2019-20 World Cup season are in full swing and they are not for the faint-hearted. One guy definitely had nerves of steel all winter long: Mauro Caviezel. With top 5 results in all Super-G races this winter, he had the consistency it takes to bring home his first crystal globe. While Mauro benefitted from the cancellation of the season’s last Super-G in Kvitfjell, World Cup leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde surely would have preferred to race on Sunday in front of his home crowd. Thanks to his strong 2nd place in Saturday’s downhill he regained the lead in the overall by 54 points over Alexis Pinturault. In the last two races in Kranjska Gora, however, he will realistically only be able to score in the GS. So things are very tense up until the last race. The standings in the overall as well as the Slalom World Cup are secondary for Mikaela Shiffrin, who wants to step into the start gate again in Åre after her dad had passed away unexpectedly: “I just hope to make a few good turns. I think that would make my dad happy.”
The World Cup’s final stages are an action drama. In the Super-G of Hinterstoder Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who came into the race as World Cup leader, had a big lead on the top, and it looked like he would increase his points double or even triple-digit – until he got jammed up and DNF. What a bummer! Zero points in his favorite discipline, in this critical phase of the season. “Shit happens,” he said in his post after the race, and the Redster star immediately got back on track with places 3 and 6 in the Super Combined and the GS. Whatever races will still take place in light of the continued spread of the coronavirus – Aleksander will gun it.
Atomic’s team strategy of just a few but the right athletes for optimum race support is as straight as it is successful – the opening of the Junior and U23 Cross Country World Championships in Oberwiesenthal proved it again: Atomic athlete Johanna Hagström took silver in the U23 Sprint event, and Norway’s Redster millennial Ansgar Evensen is Junior Sprint world champion 2020. “We’ve supported him since he was a little kid,“ says Nordic Team Manager Peter Landl. Ansgar’s goal? To be part of team Norway at next year’s Nordic World Championships in Oberstdorf – alongside Redster superstar Simen Hegstad Krueger, who achieved his career-best 15 km interval start Classic result in Lahti this past weekend. He’s still in the race for 3rd position in the overall World Cup, and in the Long Distance ranking he fights for 2nd place. Tiril Udnes Weng demonstrated her good form in Lahti too: Relay triumph with team Norway and place 12 in the 10 km race.
Redster star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde returns from Japan as the old and new “Man in Red” in the World Cup: bravely standing up against his two main contenders in the overall title chase, he raced to 6th place in the GS. While Henrik Kristofferson could close the gap by no more than 5 points (currently 74 points behind), Aleksander was able to extend his lead over Alexis Pinturault to a total of 124 points. It’s a great position ahead of the races in Hinterstoder, where Kilde celebrated his first Super-G victory in 2016. Talking about victories … Atomic is proud to have a new winner in their ranks: Filip Zubcic. And even though the female top athletes Mikaela Shiffrin and Sofia Goggia were missing in Crans Montana, the Redster ladies showed a strong team performance, adding two 3rd places to the weekend’s excellent track record.
The Cross Country World Cup season has been going on for a while, and the Atomic athletes are still on the right track with their Redster setup. Simen Hegstad Krueger demonstrated his world-class during the FIS Ski Tour 2020: following two top results in the sprint events and an outstanding performance in the 30 km pursuit the double Olympic champion finished the grueling series as 2nd. Evgenij Belov came in 12th. On the women’s side Atomic athletes Tiril Udnes Weng and her sister Lotta earned 8th and 14th place.
“What a feeling!! First win this season“ said Aleksander Aamodt Kilde’s happy post following the Redster double Super-G triumph in Saalbach (with Atomic buddy Mauro Caviezel in 2nd). He had to wait until mid-February for his first victory of the season, yet Aleksander is the one dictating the pace in the World Cup’s final stages: ahead of the technical races in Japan, he’s leading the overall title chase by 79 points over Henrik Kristoffersen and 100 points over Alexis Pinturault. It’s a promising pole position: his contenders can only score unhindered in the three remaining Slaloms, while in all other races (five speed events, four Giant Slaloms, one Combination) Redster ace Kilde will be able to continue what he’s been doing all season long: collect points in a tactically clever way …
In the 15 km freestyle competition in Falun everything went according to plan for Simen Hegstad Krueger – up until the last downhill section. Racing towards his 11th career podium the Atomic superstar fell victim to the deep, dull man-made snow and crashed shortly before the finish line, ending up in 6th position. In her comeback race Redster team mate Johanna Hagström sprinted to a sensational 9th place, skiing the fastest time in the qualifiers, after having recovered from a prolonged illness.