- The former alpine Königsdiziplin combination – ie a competition with downhill and slalom – has been an obsolete model for years.
- At the World Ski Championships in Are, this is also reflected in the fact that Olympic champion Marcel Hirscher and favorite Mikaela Shiffrin do without a start.
- In the meantime the question is discussed whether at the Olympia the parallel races should replace the combination.
Marcel Hirscher is expected next Wednesday at the Alpine Skiing World Cup, he arrives by private jet, that much is already certain. And maybe the best ski racer of the previous winter in the cargo hold still room for a few forwarding requests: Some athletes and caretakers were waiting in Are last still on their suitcases, which had stalled at the arrival turbulence for the World Cup start somewhere at Swedish airports. Only for his return flight, Hirscher himself is already planning with a little excess baggage: The Austrian would like to win two gold medals at the World Cup, one each in the giant slalom and slalom within five days – then it's back to home with the plane. He also wanted to spend time with his young family, Hirscher had addressed this politely even before the World Cup.
The Austrians will contest the team event, which takes place one day before Hirscher's move to Are, without their best racehorse this winter. The 29-year-old could have even participated in the alpine combination on Monday, but he also opted out – although he had won this competition at the 2018 Winter Games; it was his first ever Olympic gold medal at that time. At least that tells a lot about the former supreme discipline of skiing: that the Olympic champion and first title contender at the World Cup can be excused, as well as the biggest contender for the combination of women this Friday. She wanted to devote herself entirely to the slalom and giant slalom, Mikaela Shiffrin said, on Tuesday she had already spent a lot of strength for winning the Super-G.
The combination, this traditional alpine duel from downhill and slalom, is therefore also the unloved child in the family at this World Ski Championships. It is not liked, it is at best respected when it brings a medal home. It has been an obsolete model for years, because the all-rounders needed for this are largely extinct. The pros prefer to open up a few core businesses, because the level of all disciplines is increasing and traveling on the ever more global World Cup tour is not getting any shorter.
"It's not the same as it used to be, when this competition was named the most complete athlete," Karlheinz Waibel, once German head coach, said six years ago, "the slalom riders who manage to survive the downhill are the ones who win." This has changed little until today. This winter again only two World Cups are in the calendar, before the World Cup, a men's combination took place in Wengen, the women in Val d'Isère fell out.
Parallel race instead of the combination at the Olympics? Sure is not much anymore
For a long time no one wanted to tip out of the program, it was once Olympic, and if a discipline falls out of the Olympics program without substitution, nobody knows if they will get back this position. This danger seemed to be banished but last: The World Ski Federation Fis wanted to bring the parallel races, the 2018 already with the team event in the Olympic program, also in 2022 with a single competition at the start. The combination would turn out for this transfer is almost certain, that had Fis Secretary General Sarah Lewis only said last October again.
Of course, not too much is certain nowadays. On February 13, the Fis Council in Are wants to discuss the future of the discipline again. The only thing that is certain is that the Swiss would like to receive their combination location in Wengen. And Gian Franco Kasper, the Fis president, affirms lastly: If you voluntarily give up the combination, the IOC might be tempted to bowl the exit from the Olympic program too – because it's not worth it, a long piste just for a special ride to prepare.
Wolfgang Maier, the German alpine director, can "not understand at all" both. The descent must enjoy a certain protection of species as an Olympic supreme discipline, and the wishes of the Swiss colleagues are "individual interests"; In the Fis, for example, the present is once again administered instead of the future. The DSV had recently promoted increasingly the parallel formats instead of the combination – in the belief that the latter would be settled yes. In Are sends the association only Meike Pfister, Linus Strasser and Dominik Schwaiger in the race.
And then? The Fis had presented the parallel formats a few years ago as the format of the future, two drivers, a duel on a short course, this was an entertaining model. Meanwhile, the association has managed to complicate this simple format mighty – sometimes the gate distances are bigger, sometimes smaller, sometimes counts a race for the World Cup ranking of slalom riders, sometimes for those in the giant slalom. But these turmoil, the Fis had said, would be resolved by the coming winter. And then you want to premiere the parallel single race at the World Cup 2021 in Cortina. That was at least the state at the beginning of the season.