“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 …
At Berchtesgaden, the third stop of this season’s World Cup, the Atomic Backland Athletes scored on all the three race days. Davide Magnini (ITA) takes home a 3rd place in the vertical and a victory in the individual race, Iwan Arnold (SUI) wins the sprint race, and the brand-new team member Rémi Bonnet (SUI) scored second in the vertical. The junior athlete Paul Verbnjak (AUT) even stands on the podium in all three competitions.
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.
The Atomic Race family is going through tough times: ahead of the races in Garmisch and Chamonix the sad news of Mikaela Shiffrin’s father Jeff’s passing put the Redster team’s daily business into perspective. Then the World Cup weekend also brought bad news: Sofia Goggia crashed again, breaking her forearm; Marc Digruber and Redster shooting star Simon Maurberger both tore their ACL in Chamonix – the season’s over for all three of them! Cold comfort: Ester Ledecka secured a podium in Garmisch and in the Parallel GS Aleksander Aamodt Kilde made up points in the overall World Cup.
Despite the cancellation of the Sochi Downhill, the trip to Russia paid off for the Atomic team. In the Super-G three Redster ladies made it into the top 5: Sofia Goggia in 2nd place, Joana Hählen in 3rd and Stephanie Venier in 5th position! Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is still in the race for the overall World Cup with places 2 and 6 in the Downhill and the GS of Garmisch. The weekend’s sentimental hero, though, was Peter Fill: the Atomic star and one of ski racing’s big names ended his career after 355 World Cup starts, receiving standing ovations.
There’s no better way to confirm a team strategy than through race results: in the 30 km skiathlon in Oberstdorf all but one Redster athletes made it into the top 30 – on a very selective course and in a race that’s considered a world championship rehearsal. Simen Hegstad Krueger grabbed his next World Cup podium with a 2nd place, inspiring his teammates to show strong performances too. In Oberstdorf Atomic combined athlete Franz-Josef Rehrl reached the podium for the first time in this so-so winter. Redster biathlete Simon Eder continued his upward trend, finishing 8th in the mass start (his season’s best) and landing in 3rd with Lisa Hauser in the single-mixed relay race. It’s looking very promising for the biathlon team less than three weeks ahead of the world championships in Antholz.
It’s a winter without major events, but definitely not a season short of highlights. Just in time for the perceived season’s climax the Redster stars step up their game. In the speed triple of Bansko Mikaela Shiffrin, who had not yet won a race in 2020, is back on top. Winning both the first downhill and the super-G, and coming in 4th in the second downhill, she extended her overall lead to an impressive 370 points. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde is also still in the race for the big title with places 2 and 9 in the Kitzbühel super-G and downhill. And in slalom things are going better than ever: with his 2nd place Marco Schwarz missed his first post-comeback victory by only 0.12 seconds, while Lucas Braathen’s first-run lead and 4th-place finish were nothing but sensational. Although the young Norwegian wasn’t even meant to ski in the slalom World Cup this winter...
Already in the past years, the microstate Andorra in the Pyrenees has been a good location for the Atomic Backland athletes. Last weekend, the ISMF Skimountaineering season found its continuation there. The Italian athlete Davide Magnini finished 4th in the individual race and 5th in the vertical race. With these results he dominated the Espoir category.
The good news from Atomic’s Redster Nordic Unit continues: on his Redster S9 Carbon with a transparent base Simen Hegstad Krueger captured the podium for the first time in a classic World Cup race. Finishing 3rd in the 15 km pursuit race of Nove Mesto (CZE), he achieved his career-best classic result. And Simon Eder was happy about his 3rd place in the Biathlon World Cup relay race with team Austria in Ruhpolding.