Such has been the challenge for the Audi FIS Cross Alps Tour with bad conditions having affected the Ski Cross World Cups in the first three locations (Montafon, Arosa and Val Thorens), that better race weather is now high on the athletes’ wish list.
NSWIS Ski Cross athletes Sami Kennedy-Sim, currently ranked 11th in the world, and Anton Grimus, ranked 37th, are among those hoping for kinder skies in Innichen, Italy for the fourth World Cup tour stop.
Coach Shawn Fleming agreed that the start to this season has been challenging but that conditions were looking good going forward.
“Italy is looking great, although I don’t want to jinx us!” Fleming said. “The weather forecast is looking fairly stable especially compared to what we have had to deal with so far through the Cross Alps Tour.”
“The track is ready and our first day of training is tomorrow.”
Mentally preparing for race day for events to then be called off presents its own set of challenges.
“Everything has been challenging thus far in the season in regards to creating any normalcy or finding some momentum,” Fleming said.
“It has been a season of ‘hurry up and wait’. At the end of the day we know and accept this as a part of outdoor winter sport and all athletes and nations are affected equally.”
“We try are best to prepare the athletes for the long days of waiting on hill and making sure they have strategies to pass the time although it then becomes a challenge to ‘fire up’ after long hours waiting.”
“Montafon was a very unique event due to scheduling and weather and in the end the entire event consisted of one training run and then straight in to heats with no qualification.”
“All-in-all it was three hours on one morning and very challenging on athletes to perform with such little time to adjust to the track.”
“Anton’s knee has been holding up quite well and he is definitely been able to preform day in and day out,” coach Shawn Fleming advised. “He is being treated regularly by our physio to make sure no sneaky issues arise and so far things are looking very positive.”
Sochi Olympian Kennedy-Sim, who has regularly been inside the six in World Cups – including a silver in Sweden earlier this year, is after race readiness to fine tune the necessary split-second decisions, saying she “can’t wait to get back in the start gate”.
Two back-to-back World Cups will be raced in Innichen, with qualification for Ladies and Men scheduled for Wednesday, 20 December then finals on 21 December and again on 22 December.
You can follow the live updates HERE and on OWIA’s Twitter account HERE. Eurosport will be broadcasting the Innichen Ski Cross World Cups on 21 December at 11.30pm (AEDT) and 22 December at 11.30pm (AEDT).