Naeslund and Tchiknavorian victorious in Val Thorens

After a lot, and we mean A LOT of hard work from the organizing committee to clean out the course from all the fresh snow that had covered the track on Friday, and to prep everything to be ready in time for qualifications, followed by finals, it was finally time for some ski cross action after Friday’s cancellation.

We are not going to lie; weather conditions and visibility were really tough and challenging for the athletes and it is a miracle that they gave us such a show. But then again, they are professionals, aren’t they?

Naeslund unstoppable

For the big final of women World Champion and World Cup leader Sandra Naeslund (SWE), PyeongChang 2018 Olympic silver medallist Brittany Phelan, and the French duo Alizee Baron and Marielle Berger-Sabbatel entered the start gate.

Naeslund was absolutely on fire throughout the entire competition. She shot out of the gate into first position. Phelan managed to take second spot pretty early on and Berger-Sabbatel was able to sneak into third, when Baron left a little too much space open for her team mate to pass on the inside line in one of the first turns.

It was at the ever-decisive negative turn, when Phelan took the upper line and got dangerously close to Naeslund for a second, however the World Champ immediately used the generated speed again to stay at front and that way she passed the finish line first, followed by Brittany Phelan, who definitely made a statement that she is back after her one-year hiatus due to injury and Marielle Berger-Sabbatel repeating her third-place win from Secret Garden (CHN).

“It was not the greatest visibility today, but I think it was fine and it was definitely fun racing. I am really happy with my win, I literally couldn’t ask for more, this is great,” World Cup leader Sandra Naeslund commented in the finish.

Thiknavorian takes maiden victory

Also on the men’s side, a French duo made it into the big final, that being Terence Tchiknavorian and Bastien Midol, joined by German athlete Florian Wilmsmann and Switzerland’s Joos Berry.

The men started out of the gate and were a pretty close pack but still Tchiknavorian managed to get into first position and his teammate Midol was super close behind him, making sure that he can use the draft of his frontman.

Wilmsmann and Berry were sitting in third and fourth position but battling really hard to not be in last position. At one point the tall German was able to win enough speed to get a good margin from his Swiss competitor.

Meanwhile in front of the heat, Tchiknavorian did some very clean skiing also into the negative turn, but through the final section of the course, Midol got closer and closer to his team mate and it looked as if both Frenchmen had made it through the finish line at the exact same moment.

This, of course called for a photo finish, which showed that it was super tight, but in the end, Terence Tchiknavorian claimed his first-ever victory oh his home soil, causing the crowd in the finish to go absolutely wild.

“I am so happy. This is my first win and it means so much to me that it also happened here in front of my home crowd,” a very emotional Tchiknavorian commented.

Midol took his second podium spot after the competition two weeks ago in Secret Garden and Florian Wilmsmann crashed the French podium party at the third spot.

New World Cup leaders are Sandra Naeslund with a total of 200 points and Bastien Midol with a total of 140 points after his podium (third place) in China and today.

Britain's Ollie Davies made it into the knock out rounds in 18th place, 32 qualify, and then battled his way to finish in 11th place. Davies finished in second in his round of 32 before finishing third in his quarter final and being knocked out. Davies was classified 11th as he was the third fastest of those who finished third in their group.

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