Team Switzerland wins SX mixed-team event world premiere

It was a truly historic day for the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup, as it was the first time ever that the mixed-team event competition format was hosted on Sunday in Bakuriani, Georgia.

The mixed-team competition is set up in a relay format, which means that the men start first and the women 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 found HERE (Point 5800 and following).

Team Switzerland takes historical win

A total of 13 teams were ready to give it their all and to fight for the first-ever title in this competition format. In the end it came down to team Canada 2 with Christopher Delbosco and Courntey Hoffos, team Canada 3 with men’s World Cup winner Reece Howden and Tiana Gairns, team Switzerland 1 with Jonas Lenherr and World Cup winner Fanny Smith and team Sweden with David Mobaerg and World Champion Sandra Naeslund in the gates.

The final heat of men was a truly tight battle. Mobaerg, who took second place on Saturday in the individual competition, seemed to know which line was his to take and managed to get into the front of the pack with Reece Howden literally on his tails, Lenherr in third and Delbosco in fourth.

The heat stayed put like that until the very bottom part of the course, which already showed on Saturday that it was the decisive section to make some serious passing maneuvers. That’s where it got super tight for the men and the ranking changed, as Howden managed to cross the finish line first, Mobaerg second, Lenherr third and Delbosco fourth, but all in a time frame of 19 hundredths of a second.

This of course promised to have the female teammates battle it out in some serious ski cross manner. There was nothing, the men could do, but wait in the finish and cheer for the women to give it their best racing. And for once, the final heat of the day was a women’s heat, as opposed to the individual competition, when it is usually the men.

All four athletes shot out of the start gate, ready to race until the very finish line. Hoffos, unfortunately, had a little twist at the start section, which stole her some speed, causing her to be placed in fourth position, while Naeslund, Smith and Gairns were in first, second and third, respectively.

Of course, it came down to the all-time battle between Naeslund and Smith, when the Swiss winningest athlete of all time, caught some speed at the roller section, coming into the next turn and really managing to overtake the World Champion.

Giarns, sitting in third, also got closer to Naeslund and entering the bottom section, it was Hoffos, who seemingly out of nowhere, passed her colleague at first and at the final jump even passed Naeslund, making it to unbelievable second place, just behind Fanny Smith. That way, Sandra Naeslund was edged off to third and Gairns came in fourth.

That way, Smith and Lenherr as team Switzerland 1 took the first-ever mixed-team win in the history of ski cross, veteran Delbosco and young talent Hoffos as team Canada 2 came in second and rounding out the podium were team Sweden with Sandra Naeslund and David Mobaerg.

“For me, the race was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it”, a happy Lenherr said after hugging Smith in the finish. “It was crazy, because us girls, we were standing in the start gate and we saw the timing and I was cheering for Jöni (Jonas Lenherr), but he was always so good at the finish line and when I saw his result, I was really happy and thought to myself “ok, we can make it”. And in the end, it was really a team fight and a team win,” Smith added.

As this competition was a test-event, no World Cup points were assigned, but in the end, teams found the competition really fun and exciting and can’t wait to have this competition format added to the World Championship and Olympic programme, which of course adds another medal for ski cross competitions.

Now there is a one-week break for ski cross athletes to recover a bit, until it’s time to go to Sunny Valley (RUS) for the penultimate stop (March 12-13) before the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup finals in Veysonnaz on March 21.

FIS Press Release

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