Gurgl Alpine Ski World Cup Slalom Preview
Updated: Nov 19
Obergurgl-Hochgurgl, the ski resort located in the Ötztal Valley, Tirol, Austria, kicks off the 2023-2024 winter season with a sport Top-Class event: a Men's Slalom of the Alpine Ski World Cup.
A few weeks after the Alpine Ski World Cup opened its season with the Women's Giant Slalom on the Rettenbach Glacier in Sölden, ski fans will be able to enjoy a special premiere this autumn. On November 18, Hochgurgl's Kirchenkar slope will be the playground for the best tech skiers in the World like Henrik Kristoffersen, Ramon Zenhäuser, Linus Straßer, Marco Schwarz, Manuel Feller, local favorite Fabio Gstrein, and Gurgl ambassador Dave Ryding. It will be the first time that Obergurgl-Hochgurgl appears on the Alpine Ski World Cup Calendar. Gurgl is the 24 Austrian venue to held an Alpine Ski World Cup event.
The race in Gurgl is the earliest Men's Slalom since 2019 when the event was held Levi. In recent years, the first Slalom races have usually not been held until December (Alta Badia 2020, Val d'Isere 2021 and 2022).
Gurgl is a village in the municipality of Sölden, in the Ötztal Valley, Tirol, Austria. The Obergurgl-Hochgurgl ski resort is located in its municipal area.
The Gurgl Ski Paradise is one of the first open winter ski areas in the Alpine region. In 2023 the ski season starts in Gurgl on November 16.
Thank to its location, -at the southern end of the Ötz Valley, also called Gurglertal, on the border with Italy, surrounded by peaks up to 3500 m high and several glaciers, the largest of which is the Gurgler Ferner-, in combination with an excellent snowmaking infrastructure (with a capacity of 5000 m³ of snow per hour), Obergurgl-Hochgurg is one of the snow-surest ski areas in the Alps. There are not many places in the Alps, outside of the glaciers, where skiers can enjoy excellent conditions from November to May.
The ski area known by the nickname "Diamond of the Alps" is located between 1,800 and 3,080 meters above sea level. The ski resorts of Obergurgl and Hochgurgl are linked by the Top-Express gondola lift. The 50 8-person cabins, with a capacity of up to 1,200 people per hour, transport skiers in just 9 minutes along a 3.6 km scenic route over the picturesque Königstal and Ferwalltal valleys.
Ski-in and ski-out Obergurgl-Hochgurgl has a modern network of 24 lifts and 112 km of slopes divided into: 60.2 km of easy slopes (blue), 33.2 km of intermediate slopes (red), 14.3 km of difficult slopes (black), and 4,5 km of ski routes.
10:45 CET 1st run
13:45 CET 2nd run
The race starts on the Kirchenkar slope in Hochgurgl and ends 320 m above Top Mountain Crosspoint.
Technical Data Kirchenkar Gurgl racecourse
Start Altitude: 2,475 m
Finish Altitude: 2,265 m
Vertical Drop: 210m
Length of race track: 548 m
Lowest gradient: 18 %
Steepest section: 62 %
Average gradient: 38.3 %
The start of the Slalom season at the World Cup is unequivocally marked by the surprising absence of the winner of the Crystal Globe for the 2022-2023 season, Lucas Braathen. Norway’s reigning Slalom Champion announced his surprise retirement at the age of 23 in Sölden last October 27.
Last season, 10 Slalom races were held in the Alpine Ski World Cup. Ramon Zenhäusern, Lucas Braathen, Henrik Kristoffersen and Daniel Yule won two each. The remaining two were won by Clement Noel and Norwegian Alexander Steen Olsen.
Henrik Kristoffersen finished in second place on the Slalom standings and won the Slalom gold medal at the 2023 Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel-Méribel. Previously the 29-year-old Norwegian had won a bronze medal in 2021 at Cortina d'Ampezzo and at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Henrik Kristoffersen has won the Slalom Crystal Globe three times (2015-2016, 2019-2020, and 2021-2022). He aims to become the fourth male alpine skier to win the Slalom Title more than three times, after Ingemar Stenmark (8), Marcel Hirscher (6) and Alberto Tomba (4).
Kristoffersen, with 50 podiums, including 23 wins in this discipline, is in fourth position in the ranking of most podiums in Slalom. Only three other men has won more podium finishes in World Cup Slalom events as Kristoffersen: ingemar Stenmark (81), Marcel Hirscher (65), and Alberto Tomba (57).
The 29-year-old skier has claimed 30 World Cup victories in total.
Kristoffersen can become this season the second male skier to achieve at least one World Cup victory in 11 consecutive seasons, after Alberto Tomba did so from 1987-1988 to 1997-1998.
He won the Opening World Cup Slalom event three times (Levi November 2014, Val d'Isere December 2015, and Levi November 2019). Only Ingemar Stenmark (7 times) managed to win in the first men's World Cup Slalom event of the season on more occasions.
Ramon Zenhäusern finished in third place in the Slalom standings. He won the last race of the 2022-2023 winter season in Soldeu, Andorra. It's his third podium and second win of last season. After more than two years, he has won the Slalom event at the "Verte des Houches" piste in Chamonix. He won two Slalom World Cup events in a single season for the first time.
The 30-year-old Swiss skier can equal his best season 2019-2020 when he became the only Swiss man so far to win three Men's Slalom World Cup events in a single campaign.
Zenhäusern and Yule hope to become the second Swiss male skier to top the World Cup slalom standings, after Dumeng Giovanoli in 1967-1968 (the second World Cup season).
The last Swiss skier - male or female - to win the Slalom World Cup title was Vreni Schneider. She won it four consecutive times from 1991-1992 to 1994-1995.
Austrian Manuel Feller finished in fifth place in the Slalom standings and in Gurgl he will be looking for his third World Cup Slalom win. His last win was in Lenzerheide on March 21, 2021.
Austrian skiers have failed to win on the last 17 Men's World Cup Slalom events, a streak that stretches back to Johannes Strolz' victory in Adelboden on January 9, 2022. Austria is on one of its longest win droughts in Men's Slalom World Cup events since going on a 22-event winless streak from March 1984 to February 1986.
The 26-year-old French skier finished on the podium two more times last season, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and in Palisades Tahoe.
Two-time Junior World Champion Alexander Steen Olsen won a thrilling Slalom at Palisades Tahoe last season. But the 22-year-old Norwegian had to endure a long wait to celebrate his first career World Cup victory. Only after minutes of deliberation and the subsequent disqualification of the AJ Ginnis, -the officials determined the Greek skier straddled a gate-, the Norwegian was aclaimed winner.
AJ Ginnis finished second in the Men's slalom World Cup event in Charmonix on February 4th. He can become the first Greek winner of a World Cup event in any Olympic winter sports. The most recent countries to win their first World Cup event in Alpine Skiing both achieved this in the men's slalom event: Kalle Palander for Finland (Kitzbühel, January 2003) and Dave Ryding for Great Britain (Kitzbühel, January 2022).
He won the Slalom silver medal at the 2023 Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel-Méribel.