The dust from the stormy skiing weekend, which admittedly included only one World Cup match, will not settle for a long time, as everything seems to indicate.
Many skiing stakeholders are publicly questioning the sense of insisting on skiing on the Swiss-Italian border below the famous Mattehorn. The brand new Gran Becca course is truly spectacular and surrounded by beautiful alpine scenery. But what if last year’s entire program fell into the water due to lack of snow, and this year’s program was blown away by the wind. Eight planned matches, none played, the organizers put two official training sessions under the roof. The organizers are supposed to have agreed on a five-year cooperation with the FIS, but it is more than obvious that the skiers will discuss the opening of skiing in Zermatt again in the spring.
And while a good portion of the men’s downhill elite has already moved to North America as they prepare to face the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek (12/1-3) and the women’s speed caravan remains in Europe, the new season openers were on Saturday, however, the slalom skiers were treated. The test in Gurgl in the Austrian Tyrol ended with a glorious triple victory for Austria (Manuel Feller, Marco Schwarz, Michael Matt), and the race at the new World Cup venue was also marked by an incident caused by climate activists.
The protesters, who pointed out the alleged excessive interference of skiing in nature, jumped over the fences, ran into the finish run, stained the snow surface with orange powder and thus interrupted the final run for a few minutes. After the race, he is the general secretary of the Austrian Skiing Association Christian Scherer also considered security measures and said that a more severe form of disruption could also result in a huge monetary loss. Climate protestors partly marked the start of the season in Sölden, when they closed the road to the foot of the Rettenbach glacier for a few minutes. As a result, Austrian ski workers are announcing stricter safety measures and are considering restrictions on free access to the fences along the competition tracks. Scherer also expressed concern in light of the World Cup in Saalbach in 2025.
The events in the finish line in Gurgl completely derailed the Norwegian star Henrik Kristoffersen. The enraged slalom first-category went against the protesters. The close encounter was prevented by a police officer and members of several escort teams. He later explained his behavior on the Instagram social network. ”I know that such things spoil. But I am a man who takes action when he feels wronged. There is no doubt that the climate is a huge problem and I do not want to suppress it. However, interrupting an event that is purely cultural is not appropriate. For most athletes, that’s all we have. They ruined the match for at least four competitors. This is not fair,” wrote Kristoffersen, who finished the test in seventh place, while thanking for the support.
The protester was then answered via the X network to Kristoffersen. “We did not stop the race for fun or to put the skiers at a disadvantage. We don’t enjoy it. But we don’t know what else to do. The government is destroying our future. We are running out of time,” the protesters, collectively called “the last Austrian generation”, say in their demands for an accelerated climate policy.
North American Tour
The World Cup season continues this weekend with the women’s giant slalom and women’s slalom in Killington (11/25-26). One week later, the men will compete in Beaver Creek, while the women await the giant slalom in Tremblant, Canada.