Smith and Midol victorious in Val Thorens

After the cancellation of the first competition on Saturday in Val Thorens (FRA) due to too much wind, the weather on Sunday was thankfully much better for some ski cross action.

The big and demanding course did not leave room for the smallest mistakes, especially the second negative turn was a big turning point for most of the heats on the women’s and also men’s side.

Smith one step closer to tie Ophelie David’s record

Battling their way into the big final on the women’s side was once again Fanny Smith (SUI), World Chamion Marielle Thompson (CAN) and the French duo Marielle Berger-Sabbatel and newcomer Jade Grillet-Aubert.

Fanny Smith was out of the start gate as quick as a torpedo, instantly taking the lead of the heat. Whereas Marielle Thompson did miss to have a good start, so the veteran was placed in fourth position with the two French athletes in front of her with the youngster Grillet-Aubert in second and Berger-Sabbatel in third.

Grillet-Aubert did a great job to get into Smith’s wind shadow and stay there for the longest time. Berger-Sabbatel was getting closer to her teammate, almost threatening to pass, but in the first negative turn, Grillet-Aubert managed to defend her second position really well and still kept on benefiting from Smith’s wind shadow. This fantastic performance of the French athlete secured her a maiden podium in just her fourth World Cup start.

It was not until the very last passage of the course, where Thompson showed her routine and class in ski cross, overtaking Berger-Sabbatel, when it looked like Thompson would actually not make the podium. Berger-Sabbatel came close to her teammate, making contact with her, which caused Berger-Sabbatel to lose speed, which Thompson of course took to her advantage, fighting until the end, preventing a French double podium.

With her 25th World Cup victory, Smith is now only one win away from tying Ophelie David’s record of 26 World Cup victories, which are the most victories of an athlete on the women’s side.

“You know, I just go race by race, I am not really looking to break any records. I am really happy with my skiing today; it was really tough on the turns and I am happy that I managed so well today. I like Val Thorens…but you know what, actually I like all the races,” a smiling and happy Smith commented.

Jonathan Midol grabs first Val Thorens win

In the men’s big final, it was two Frenchmen, Jean-Frederic Chapuis and Jonathan Midol against young Canadian Reece Howden and Germany’s Florian Wilmsmann.

While the tall Canadian managed to get into first position quite quickly, Chapuis and Midol were battling for second position, leaving the German in fourth and last position of the heat.

After one of the jumps and leading into the first negative turn, Wilmsmann managed to get the faster line and passing Jean-Frederic Chapuis, after whom, after all, this ski cross course here in Val Thorens is named.

It was another jump and again the passage that led into the second negative turn, where Jonathan Midol was really fast, managing to overtake Reece Howden and getting into the leading position. This was also the moment, when Chapuis drifted really low on the negative and lost all of his speed, making it impossible to continue the battle for a podium spot.

That way, Jonathan Midol took his first win on home soil. It was his second win after the 2018 victory in San Candido/ Innichen (ITA) and his second podium spot in Val Thorens after 2015.

“I feel great, it was a crazy day! After two bad races in Arosa, where I didn’t pass one run, the win today is amazing. It is a big course, a lot of speed, big jumps, a lot of ice, it was a great fight with the guys. It is an awesome feeling to have won,” Midol says.

Young gun Reece Howden showed that he is in a very good shape and we can for sure expect to see more of him throughout the season and for 24-year-old Florian Wilmsmann it was his third podium, also performing really well at the start of this season.

The old and new World Cup leaders after today’s race are Fanny Smith with a 112-point margin ahead of Sweden’s Alexandra Edebo, who unfortunately crashed in the small final and suffered from a concussion and therefore will not be able to race at the second race in Val Thorens. And for the men, David Mobaerg also stays in the lead of the World Cup standings with only 39 points ahead of Reece Howden.

Unfortunately, last year’s SX crystal globe winner Kevin Drury (CAN) crashed in the final round of 64 pre-heat qualification and it is reported that he suffered from a broken fibula, which will not allow him to race any time soon. We wish him a quick recovery!

Now, all focus is set on tomorrow’s second race here in Val Thorens, which is scheduled for 11:15 CET. Single run qualies for men will start at 9:25 and for women at 10:15, which you can follow via FIS App or live timing on our website.

FIS release

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