Vail’s Vonn: Knockout slalom in Munich brought big crowds
Special to the Denver Post
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, a three-time World Cup overall champion and Olympic downhill gold medalist, reports regularly in collaboration with Denver Post ski writer John Meyer.
MUNICH, Germany – The top racers on the World Cup competed here Sunday night in a parallel, head-to-head knockout slalom “city event” at the Olympic Park where the 1972 Summer Games were held. I thought the event was awesome.
There were so many people – more than 25,000 spectators – and there was a lot of excitement. I’ve never seen so many people in the finish area of a ski race. The view from the starting gate was incredible. It was insane, almost like a rock concert.
But we don’t normally compete in head-to-head dual formats. As I’ve said previously, if they’re going to have events like this, I think they need to figure out a system that doesn’t unfairly impact the World Cup overall title chase. It needs to be a system that will be fair for the athletes while being exciting for the spectators.
I made the quarterfinals and earned 30 overall World Cup points. Germany’s Maria Riesch, the hometown favorite and my main rival for the World Cup overall title, was eliminated in the first round and picked up 15 points.
Even though the race wound up benefiting me over Maria in the overall title race, I still don’t think overall World Cup points should be awarded. For Maria and me, it’s not a good situation, having to compete in a format that is so foreign to us. Fortunately for me, I gained points, but in the first round I was up against Maria’s sister Suzanne, who is a top-five slalom skier. I beat her, but she was not an easy draw for me.
Maria’s first-round opponent was Italy’s Daniela Merighetti, who everyone thought would be an easy out, but she turned out to be incredibly good at the dual slalom format. Merighetti made it to the semifinals.
I think there needs to a qualifying run or something to make it more fair, so the top athletes have an advantage, and the top athletes are competing against each other in the end. That would be better for the spectators as well as the athletes.
It’s just a matter of having the FIS and the athletes talk and come up with a solution that makes everyone happy. I would love to have events like this again, because they really are great for promoting the sport.
Imagine having a dual slalom event in Denver’s Civic Center or New York’s Times Square. There are so many possibilities, and it could be the next step for our sport if it’s done the right way.