Smith and Wilmsmann win super tight big finals in Bakuriani

What a day it was for the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup athletes to be racing on the 2023 FIS Freestyle, Freeski and Snowboard World Championships course in Bakuriani on Saturday at noon. A bluebird sky, bright sunshine and good mood all around – this had to be an incredible ski cross show!

Smith secures third career ski cross crystal globe

For the big final of women, four ladies got into the start gate that are no strangers to the final heat of the day: With World Cup leader Fanny Smith (SUI), World Champion Sandra Naeslund (SWE), Sochi 2014 Olympic gold medallist Marielle Thompson (CAN) and strong French athlete Marielle Berger-Sabbatel, it was the crème de la crème of ski cross women ready for the podium battle.

Out of the start gate, it was Naeslund, who managed the start section the best and got into the lead immediately with the two Marielle’s battling it out on the following roller section for second and third position, whereas Smith made a mistake at the very beginning and fell behind in fourth position.

The leading pack were Naeslund, Berger-Sabbatel and Thompson and it looked like Smith was so far behind that the podium spot seemed completely out of sight. But whoever knows ski cross also knows that the fight is not over until the very finish line and on Saturday, fans got to witness that in an incredible manner.

In the following turns, Smith gained some real speed, which came absolutely to her advantage for the upcoming roller section, so she came closer to the leading three. Another mistake on one of the next rollers, got her behind again though.

Naeslund, still in the lead, managed the next part of the course really well, but so did Smith, when she started to really attack for the first podium spot, first by passing Thompson and Berger-Sabbatel almost at the same time and then the Swiss ski cross ace got into Naeslund’s wind shadow to gain even more speed, which she then used to her advantage on the second-last jump, following roller section and ultimately at the final jump, overtaking Naeslund just on the finish straight, literally a split second before the finish line and making it a photo finish, which showed that Smith did take the win at last.

This win also means that Fanny Smith won the overall ski cross crystal globe on Saturday for the third time in her career. She is now 308 points in the lead for the World Cup standings ahead of Marielle Thompson and with only two individual races left, there is no chance for the Canadian to win this battle anymore.

“Yeah, I am really happy and even more so in this race. I had a really bad start and then I knew I was behind and I was just thinking to myself “I am going to get them!” and then I went for it. It was a really nice final and all the girls fought really hard and I am so happy with this win today,” the most consistent athlete of the season commented after her win.

Britain's Emma Peters finished in 16th spot, her highest World Cup result in her career to date.

Wilmsmann claims maiden World Cup victory

And if the women’s big final wasn’t enough of a tight battle, the men’s big final was nothing short of excitement too.

The Canadian duo Brady Leman and Jared Schmidt fought their ways into the big final on the very finish part of the course in every heat they went through until the last one of the day. Florian Wilmsmann (GER) and David Mobaerg (SWE) were the other two gentlemen to complete the final heat of four.

While Schmidt had the fastest reaction time out of the gate, it was Mobaerg, who then managed to get into the lead the fastest, while Wilmsmann was sitting in second and Olympic Champion Brady Leman in third and Schmidt was at the very end of the heat.

The heat stayed like this for most part of the following features and it was only at one of the jumps, when Leman passed Wilmsmann literally in the air, edging the German into third position, making it look as it was a done deal.

But suddenly, Leman who was on the far right outside lane, seemed to have touched Mobaerg’s ski, which immediately caused the Canadian to lose balance and, and of all things, crash just before a jump, taking him out of the race.

This all happened just before the finish straight, in which Wilmsmann got some real speed and managed to pass Mobaerg, who was in the lead throughout the entire heat, just before the finish line, as it had happened in the women’s big final. And with Leman out, it was Schmidt, who took then third place and making it a maiden podium for the Canadian.

It was Wilmsmann’s very first World Cup victory and the German was just super happy and smiling when commenting: “I am just super happy! It was crazy and tight racing from the very first heat on, but it was a lot of fun. The track is really awesome and I think the venue is amazing and all in all it was a really good day!”

The ski cross crystal globe on the men’s side was also secured today by Reece Howden, who unfortunately was out after the very first heat, but still managed to grab enough margin on points ahead of Jonas Lenherr (SUI), who is sitting in second, to make sure that the globe is going into his hands at the end of the season for the very first time in the career of the 22-year-old Canadian.

Mixed-team event world premiere

Competition mode is not quite over yet in Bakuriani, as on Sunday the world premiere of the first ever ski cross mixed-team event will be staged in the Georgian resort.

The mixed-team competition is set up in a relay format, which means that the men will start first and the women will leave the start gate once the men are in the finish with the respective time margin that the men crossed the finish line. The ranking will be decided by the fastest woman crossing the finish line. An in-depth explanation of the rules can be foundHERE(Point 5800 and following).

It is the goal of the FIS Cross Race Directors to include this new format into the World Championships and Olympic Winter Games programme.

We can’t wait to see this competition format going down on Sunday, February 28 at 11:30 LOC/ 08:30 CET. Tune in and don’t miss it!

FIS Press release

  • Full results women/ men
  • World Cup standings women
  • World Cup standings men
  • Picture: FIS Press Release

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