Smith and Howden take home SX crystal globes

What a final show of the season at the very last competition of the Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup season 2020/21! In an incredible ski cross manner, the athletes qualified for the season finals gave their all and everything to show just one more time this year, what ski cross is all about. Dynamic, action, fast skiing, passes and head-to-head racing all at once.

Sandra Naeslund takes final season win

For the very last time this season, the final heat of women was going down with World Champion Sandra Naeslund (SWE), winningest SX athlete of all time, Fanny Smith (SUI), World Champs bronze medallist Alizee Baron (FRA) and Austria’s Katrin Ofner in the start gates.

Needless to say, ski cross fans got what they wanted and that was a continuation of the all-time battle between Sandra Naeslund and Fanny Smith. Just a quick reminder that Smith won the last World Cup race in Russia’s Sunny Valley literally by a finger length in an ultimate ski cross manner. So, of course, Naeslund would enter the competition for some serious revenge.

When the gates dropped in Smith’s “living room”, so to speak, as Veysonnaz truly is her home race, it was of course Naeslund and Smith getting into the lead neck-and-neck. They went together over the first jump, making it a tight landing for both, and entering into the first bank, the World Champion took the inside line, securing the top spot in front, with Smith right behind her, Baron in third and Ofner in fourth.

Smith was literally on Naeslund’s tail, as she used the Swede’s wind shadow, to stay as close as possible, waiting for the perfect opportunity to pass, while Baron and Ofner were a little behind and not really getting into the battle between the two leading athletes.

After one of the following jumps, Smith stayed in a super compact position, gaining a lot of speed and with this, she entered the next bank on the outside line and managed to pass Naeslund. It all seemed as if Smith was going to go for the home win, when entering into the very last turn, Naeslund took the inside line and with the final jump, she gained speed for the final rollers, which she did press with all the power she had left and that’s when Naeslund managed to overtake Smith, just before the finish line.

Baron and Ofner then crossed the finish line right after the leading ladies in third and fourth place respectively.

“It’s been really tight racing with Fanny all the time and it’s really fun. And with this course, I really had no idea how to deal with the start and I wasn’t feeling comfortable, but at other parts of the course I felt really good and I just tried to ski well and when Fanny passed me, I did a really good turn and just skied fast and I am really happy,” World Champion Sandra Naeslund said after this epic final battle of the season.

Wilmsmann closes season with a win

The start gate of the very final heat of the day and season was filled with three German athletes, that being Florian Wilmsmann, Tim Hronek and Cornell Renn, of which only the first two had podiums to their names. The three teammates were joined by Frenchman and veteran Jonathan Midol to have the “last dance” of the day and season.

It was the three Germans, who shot out of the gates and lined up in front with Midol right behind them forming a pack, which looked a lot like a German-French sandwich. But entering into the first bank and then into the negative turn, Wilmsmann got into the lead with Midol right behind him and Hronek and Renn in third and fourth position.

Wilmsmann’s skis were super fast and therefore he was able to stay in front and in the lead ahead of Midol, who tried to get closer to the leading athlete. The Frenchman really made an effort, and it was not until after the final jump and getting into the roller section, when Midol pressed those final rollers, hoping to make a pass on the leading German.

But in the end, it was Wilmsmann who succeeded to stay in the lead from top to bottom and also to cross the finish line as first, claiming his second career win this season, with Midol coming in second and Tim Hronek rounding out the podium as third, edging his teammate Renn off the podium.

The 25-year-old German winner closed out a pretty successful season and being in the finish full of emotions, this is what he had to say:” I was so happy to make it into the big final with Tim and Cornell. They are my best friends, and it was just awesome racing with them. I was not feeling too good in the morning, but those said to me “come on, this is the final one, just go for it and have fun” and that’s ultimately just what I did!”

Smith claims third career crystal globe

Fanny Smith has had an extraordinarily successful season so far and truly wrote ski cross history. By grabbing 11 podiums, of which it was 7 times the top spot, including the team spirit effort at the world premiere of the mixed team event together with Jonas Lenherr in Bakuriani, Smith showed an incredible consistency throughout the season and had her most successful season yet.

Add a World Champs silver medal and the fact that she has set a new world record for most World Cup victories among men and women (29 that is), and an early SX crystal globe win to that list and it will be clear to understand, why Smith has been the most successful female athlete of the season and it’s therefore well deserved that she stood on top of the podium for the World Cup ranking award ceremony.

For the second time in her career, Smith was able to hold the crystal globe in her hands at her “home resort” in Veysonnaz, which makes it always a very special and memorable moment and in total, the Swiss ski cross ace has now three SX crystal globes to her name (2013, 2019, 2021).

Reece Howden takes home crystal globe

Reece Howden won his first SX crystal globe this season, which actually is his first full World Cup season on the circuit. His incredible achievements also earned him the title “rookie of the year” at the season finals.

It is the second consecutive year that the globe is being awarded to a male Canadian athlete after last year’s victory by Kevin Drury. The 22-year-old showed one amazing performance after another this season. With six podiums, of which it was four victories this season, the tall Canadian showed that with his incredible racing, he is truly the best male athlete this year.

Final SX Awards of the 2020/21 season:

As the final award ceremony was going down under a bluebird sky and the sun shining down on the crystal globes, the final rankings for the SX World Cup season 2020/21 were the following:


1 – Fanny Smith (SUI)

2 – Alizee Baron (FRA)

3 – Marielle Thompson (CAN)


1 – Reece Howden (CAN)

2 – Jonas Lenherr (SUI)

3 – Bastien Midol (FRA)

The team captains also voted for the rookies of the year the day before the finals, and the awards went to the following athletes:

Female rookie of the year: Jade Grillet-Aubert (FRA)

Male rookie of the year: Reece Howden (CAN)

And in the end, the Nation’s Cup 2020/21 went to team Switzerland.

Despite all challenges faced, it was an amazing Audi FIS Ski Cross World Cup season 2020/21 with some true action and some excellent racing. Now, it's time to recharge the batteries over spring and summer and get ready for the Olympic season 2021/22.

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