Alpine skiing takes on those pesky newcomers

February 16, 2009

skiingArguably the most popular winter sport, alpine skiing has been threatened in recent years by hipper, younger disciplines like snowboarding, moguls, half-pipe or ski-cross, which have all made it into the Olympic programme.

With that in mind, the world championships in Val d’Isere may have given new ideas to the alpine ski chiefs to boost and rejuvenate their sport.

In the past fortnight some of the leading skiers in the world unwittingly invented new events which might not look so ridiculous in future Winter Games.

Former world champion Michael Walchhofer of Austria skied down the downhill course twice after being allowed to start again by the organisers following a protest by his team.

“It is a revolution in alpine skiing,” said his team-mate Hermann Maier, at least half-jokingly. “Because of Michael we will now have to race all downhills in two legs,”  Herminator added.

American Lindsey Vonn for her part introduced the new discipline of the one-armed slalom after cutting her thumb in opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate her downhill victory.

Sadly, the technique of the double world champion in the new event is not perfect yet as she crashed out of the women’s slalom in the second run.

France’s Tessa Worley was a little less ambitious in her innovations. She just completed most of her giant slalom second run with only one pole, having lost the other along the way. She still finished 7th.

If these new events were not exciting enough for television viewers, we would suggest that they try watching them like Lara Gut, upside down. The young Swiss often watches TV at home with her feet up the back of the sofa and her head down, a drill invented by her parents to improve her sense of balance.

The trick seems to work. At 17, Gut won two silver medals in the super-combined and downhill. And success has not seemed to go to her head yet.

PHOTO: Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. clears a gate in the women’s Slalom race to finish second of the Super Combined event at the Alpine Skiing World Championships 2009 in the French resort of Val d’Isere February 6, 2009. She finsihed second but was later disqualified for missing a gate. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

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