Cortina d’Ampezzo (BL), 18 December, 2020 – In fifty days Cortina goes on the global stage of skiing. The Ski World Championships, to be held in Cortina d’Ampezzo 7 to 21 February next year, are drawing closer, and the snow-covered landscapes surrounding the Tofane and the Queen of the Dolomites, are marking time. Autumn is a distant memory, winter is upon us and so is the arrival of the World Cup in Italy, with Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Madonna di Campiglio and Bormio serving as springboards for the World Championships.
With 50 days to go until the first major winter sports event in the pandemic era, the athletes are whipping up emotions and excitement in the World Cup races, no doubt looking forward to becoming protagonists during the two weeks in February on the Ampezzo slopes, which this year will host also men’s races after an absence of thirty years.
The women’s giant slalom in Courchevel was a great spectacle that saw Mikaela Shiffrin’s return to victory and an epic technical manoeuvre by Federica Brignone. It was “an incredible day” of rebirth for the American champion and it was the race that once again confirmed the great preparation of the Italian team, getting ready to dominate. Marta Bassino, the youngest in the team, displaces the competition with her light, essential, but at the same time winning, style of skiing. Petra Vlhová kicked off with five podiums in six races, and Sofia Goggia, after having tested her giant slalom condition, is ready for her races in Val d’Isère, no doubt keen to launch a signal in view of the upcoming World Championships on home turf.
The men’s circuit has re-embraced Dominik Paris, who immediately returned in competitive shape after his injury last year, and who already has his eyes on the great classics at the end of December and in January. Races he has already tamed, that will propel him straight to the goal of the season, the 2021 World Championships in Cortina. If the women’s favourites are the same as last season’s, in the men’s category some very young athletes are coming to the fore. Above all the “millennial” Lucas Braathen, and 23-year old Marco Odermatt who has showed his ability to fight for the general ranking on par with Alexis Pinturault and Henrik Kristoffersen, and to have what it takes to win a medal in the Cortina World Championships. The Swiss skier is already familiar with the world podium, having won five gold medals in the Junior category, four consecutive ones in Davos, in 2018, during his final year in the category.
What we have seen so far in the World Cup, suggests that the World Championships in Cortina will be feisty and full of surprises with many protagonists fighting to win a medal and outsiders ready to take advantage. In the first six men’s races there has not yet been the same winner twice.
Fifty days to go until the kick-off of a unique and exhilarating event that Fondazione Cortina 2021 has been busy preparing for some time. The slopes are ready, the snow has arrived, and FIS has given the green light after a “Final Inspection” on 1 December. The start of the show is just over a month and a half away.