Winter sports blog: James Woods wins freestyle skiing silver
Andrew Magee brings us the latest news and views from the snow and ice on the winter sports circuit
After the thrills and spills of the 2013 World Ski Championships in Schladming, it’s back to the regular winter schedule and your dose of snow sports news on The Sport Review.
But with spring soon to be sprung, and the season slowly melting to a close, there are only a few weeks left before people swap the slopes for some summer sun.
But fear not – Britain has once more been excelling. This week we have: news from Norway, (giant) slaloms from Slovenia and high-flying Hirscher.
Freestyle Skiing World Championships
British star James Woods won silver in the slopestyle skiing event in Myrkdalen, Norway, Britain’s first World Championship freestyle skiing medal in 20 years. The 21-year-old posted a score of 91.2 and was sandwiched between Americans Tom Wallisch in first and Nicholas Goepper in third.
He said: “I’m very happy with myself. I’m really proud of everyone. Everyone is skiing absolutely fantastic all the time, not just here but everywhere. To do those tricks you have to be really bang on, and I feel like my second run was pretty close to it.” He added, in typically British fashion: “And you know, crikey, I got some flowers for the effort!”
In the women’s competition, Katie Summerhayes continued her extraordinary recovery from a knee injury by finishing in fourth place with 72.2 points. The 17-year-old only returned to action just over a month ago, winning a silver medal in her first competition back, and can look forward to Sochi next year having already qualified.
Alpine Skiing – Men
Fresh from winning three golds at the World Championships in Schladming, American Ted Ligety secured his fourth overall Giant Slalom title with a win at Kranjska Gora in Slovenia. The 28-year-old’s fifth GS win of the season meant he extended his lead over Austria’s Marcel Hirscher to 125 points with one race left – on Wednesday at Lenzerheide in Switzerland. Hirscher finished in second place, with France’s Alexis Pinturault in third.
Ligety said: “Securing the GS title one race in advance is a big weight off my back. I had an awesome season in giant slalom but Hirscher was constantly with me the whole season. Even when I beat him by two seconds he was still there in second and it makes it tougher going for the title. It was a head game when he was so close all along.”
Despite losing out in the GS, Hirscher won the overall Slalom World Cup title thanks to a fine first run in the event in Slovenia. Ivica Kostelic won the race – his first victory of the season – but Hirscher’s first run meant he was mathematically guaranteed the slalom title with a single race of the season remaining. He also finished second on the podium to maintain his momentum in the fight for the overall World Cup crown.
He has been battling with Aksel Lund Svindal in recent weeks, and the two are separated by just 149 points heading into the final event at Lenzerheide, Switzerland. At the start of the season, Svindal was so dominant on the men’s tour that it seemed he had the overall title wrapped up in time for Christmas. But, despite winning the Super G and coming second in the Downhill on home snow last week, the Norwegian is still trailing Hirscher in the overall standings.
Alpine Skiing – Women
It might be tight at the top of the men’s tour, but the women’s overall World Cup title was decided long ago thanks to the blistering form of Slovenia’s Tina Maze. But the standings at the top of the Slalom leader-board could not be closer after Maze won in Ofterschwang, Germany, taking the outright lead. It was the 29-year-old’s 22nd podium of the season, equalling Austrian legend Hermann Maier’s record from 1999/2000. The win meant Maze surpassed 17-year-old American superstar Mikaela Shiffrin in the overall standings, with the young World Champion third on the podium in Ofterschwang. The two are separated by just seven points heading into the last race of the season in Switzerland next Saturday. It should make for fantastic viewing.
Scotland continued their proud curling tradition with another victory on Sunday. After Eve Muirhead and Tom Brewster skipped teams to the Scottish titles last month, the men’s junior team won their first World Championship since 1996. Kyle Smith led his team to a 6-2 victory over Russia in Sochi, with the home side unable to score a single point until the eighth end. Smith said: “We’ve had a good week and a good year. I was a bit nervous but that’s only natural. We played everything we could and didn’t give them much of a chance.”
Their female counterparts were unable to seal a Scottish double, losing 6-5 to Russia after an extra end in their gold medal match. The senior Women’s Curling World Championships take place in Latvia from 16 to 24 March and the men’s competition takes place in Canada from 30 March to 7 April.
Short track skating
Brit Elise Christie, who is already the overall World Cup champion at 1000m, capped a remarkable season by taking a bronze medal in the event at the World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. In doing so, the 22-year-old became the first British woman to win an individual short track medal at a World Championships.
With Britain on the up in slopestyle skiing, and some real medal contenders likely to compete at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, readers will want to brush up on their freestyle vocabulary. James Woods’ silver medal run saw him score 91.2 points, and his trick list was posted on the International Ski Federation website. For the uninitiated, The Sport Review has provided some helpful translations. For reference, the numbers refer to the number of degrees spun in a rotation.
Woods’ run: Switch 270 on 20ft rail; Rail transfer frontside switch-up pretzel 270 out; Switch pole jam 900 mute; Left-side double-corked 1080 safety to Japan; Right-side double-corked 1260 mute; Switch right-side double-corked 1080 octo.
Translations: Pretzel – Jumping 270 degrees on to a rail, sliding its length, before jumping 270 degrees off it; Mute – Grabbing the left ski in front of the boot; Double-cork – spinning off axis and can be combined with a variety of grabs; Japan – Grabbing the left ski behind the boot; and Octo – Grabbing the right ski tail with the right hand, and left ski tip with the left hand.