Val Thorens hosts the first stage of the Skicross World Cup this week. Here are 5 things to know about this new season, where after the failure of the Beijing Olympics (no medal, as in 2018), the French will still be expected on the podiums.
Coach Michel Lucatelli, four years laterAfter a stint in the Alpine staff, here is the man who accompanied the Blues from 2008 to 2018, with in particular the historic French hat-trick at the 2014 Olympics. Michel Lucatelli therefore found the French team last April. skicross, assisted by two of his former riders: Sylvain Miaillier (101 World Cup starts, 1 victory) and Arnaud Bovolenta (bronze medalist at the 2014 Olympics). “Of course, the objective is always to be successful, on the podiums, the victoriessays Lucatelli. There are athletes who have the profile to win the overall World Cup, and who also have the profile to be very good in one day. On lofty goals, with old and new. »
The return of the infirmary of Alizée Baron and Marielle Berger-SabbatelThe two leaders of the French women’s team celebrate their return to the World Cup circuit in Val Thorens, a smooth recovery with the objective of being 100% competitive in January. Alizée Baron like Marielle Berger-Sabbatel had a complicated year and both missed the Olympics. Berger-Sabbatel, author of two podiums last season, suffered from a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament of the left knee and a lesion of the patellar tendon at the end of December, located at the end of her season. 17th this Tuesday during qualifying in Val Thorens for the first round of the World Cup, she did not qualify for the first final.
Baron flew well to Beijing for the Olympics, but the bronze medalist of the last Worlds had to forfeit the very morning of the Olympic race, victim of back pain. “I am not 100% yet but the last signs are recommended”, appreciates Baron, 9th on Tuesday, qualified for the final stages on Thursday, like the French champion Jade Grillet-Aubert (13th), 5th overall last season.
read also: Alizée Baron, back on skis after her package during the Olympics: “I’m alive again”
One in two tickets for the expected Terence Tchiknavorian and Bastien MidolRespectively second and third overall in the World Cup last year, Terence Tchiknavorian and Bastien Midol experienced this opening of the season differently, they who were bothered by minor injuries in their preparation (back problems for Tchiknavorian and a broken toe for Midol). Only Midol, vice-world champion in 2015, won his ticket for the final stages on Thursday (11th), Tchiknavorian having taken 35th place.
Midol is one of seven French skiers placed in the top 32 qualifiers on Tuesday, with Youri Duplessis Kergomard (10th), Morgan Guipponi Barfety (12th), Jonathan Midol (27th), Nicolas Raffort (30th), Melvin Tchiknavorian (31st) and Romain Mari (32nd).
Three ex-alpine skiers in an incubatorLike François Place, world ski cross champion in 2019, who had a first career in the Alps, three Alpine defectors joined the tricolor workforce this summer: Eliott Piccard (22 years old, 5 starts in the Coupe d Europe), Evan Klufts (25 years old, 71 European Cup starts) and Nicolas Raffort (31 years old, 62 World Cup starts and 2 European Cup victories). Only the latter was selected for Val Thorens, and clinched his place for the final stages on Thursday, taking 30th place in qualifying on Tuesday. The others still have to earn points on the FIS circuit to appear in the World Cup.
World Championships in FebruaryIn parallel with the World Cup circuit in this post-Olympic season, the Blues are also meeting next February at the World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia (February 18 – March 5). If the vice-world champion François Place (and gold medalist in 2019) retired this summer, Alizée Baron, double bronze medalist (2019 and 2017) will be expected. Since 2013 (over five editions), there has always been at least one Frenchman on the world podium.
read also: Chapuis, 2014 Olympic champion, retired: “I was lucky to live those moments”