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  • Writer's pictureRaúl Revuelta

Men's Speed Weekend in Val Gardena

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

The 56th Saslong Classic in Val Gardena/Gröden will take place on the last weekend before Christmas.

After the cancellation of the races in the Matterhorn Cervino Speed Opening in Zermatt-Cervinia and the 2023 Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup in Beaver Creek, the Saslong Classic will launch the Alpine Ski World Cup season for the speed athletes.

In 2023 the South Tyrolean ski resort will once again host three races, two Downhills and a Super-G. On Thursday, 14th December a Downhill race will replace one of the races cancelled in Zermatt-Cervinia.

December 14th Downhill (replaces Zermatt-Cervinia) 11:45 CET

December 15th Super-G 11:45 CET

December 16th Downhill 11:45 CET

Training sessions have been scheduled for Tuesday, 12th and Wednesday, 13th December.

Val Gardena is home to the Saslong Classic, one of the iconic Men's World Cup Downhill races.

The Saslong course is considered one of the five "classic" Men's Downhill races, along with Garmisch-Partenkirchen's Kandahar, Kitzbühel's Hahnenkamm, Wengen's Lauberhorn, and Val-d'Isère's Criterium de la Première Neige (FRA).

With 7 World Cup victories (five in the Super-G , two in the Downhill ), the Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal is the most successful skier on the Saslong.

Austrian Franz Klammer (1975, two races in 1976, and 1982), and Italian Kristian Ghedina (1996, 1998, 1999 and 2001) won the Downhill in Val Gardena four times.

In 1967, the International Ski Federation decided to host the Ski World Championships in the valley in 1970. The first World Cup race was held in Val Gardena/Gröden on February 14th, 1969.

The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1970 were held in Val Gardena, from February 8–15, 1970. For the only time, results from the World Championships were included in the World Cup points standings, then in its fourth season.

Since 1972 and Val Gardena become a traditional venue of the World Cup races. In 1975, Val Gardena/Gröden hosted the World Cup Finals for the first and only time.

Since 2002 the Downhill has been paired with a Super-G race, and from 1979 to 1982 a combined event was held.

Start altitude: 2,249m (DH), 2,000m (SG)

Finish altitude: 1,410m

Elevation difference: 839m (DH), 590m (SG)

Length: 3,446m (DH), 2,415m (SG)

Steepest section: 56.9%

Lowest gradient: 11.2 %

Average gradient: 24.5%

The Camel Humps represent the most spectacular section of the Saslong. They were named by the late and former Austrian FIS TD Sepp Sulzberger. Uli Spiess from Austria was the first athlete to attempt and succeed in jumping all three Humps at the same time instead of taking each jump separately. Since Spiess' premiere, skiers today mostly absorb the first jump (a.k.a. "Girardelli Line") and leap from the second over the third. The record jump belongs to Austrian skier Michael Walchhofer who leaped 88 meters reaching a height of 4-5 meters in 2003.

Last season in the first of the two Downhills held in Val Gardena-Gröden, in a shortened course Vincent Kriechmayr beat season dominator Marco Odermatt by 0.11 seconds. Teammate Matthias Mayer finished in third place +0.13 behind.

Two days after Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won the traditional Downhill on the Saslong in Val Gardena. The Norwegian celebrated his third Downhill victory in Gröden ahead of French veteran Johan Clarey (+0.35) and Italian Mattia Casse (+0.42).

Val Gardena-Gröden is a valley in Northern Italy, in the Dolomites of South Tirol.

Val Gardena and the magnificent three villages of Ortisei, S. Cristina, and the picturesque Selva Gardena, surrounded by the scenario of the Dolomites is part of the Dolomiti Superski, a world-famous network of 12 ski areas and over 1200km of slopes in the Dolomites which you can access using just one ski pass.

The Dolomites Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi ski area is lift linked to the Sella Ronda sector of the Dolomiti Superski pass. The Sella Ronda is probably the world’s third-largest lift-linked ski area with over 500km of lift-linked ski runs.

Val Gardena / Gröden is one of the candidates to organize the 2029 Alpine World Ski Championships. The host election will take place at the FIS Congress in Reykjavik on Tuesday, 4 June 2024. In addition to Val Gardena, Soldeu (Andorra) and Narvik (Norway) are also bidding for the 2029 Alpine World Championships.

Since 2016, the fastest racer of the Ski World Cup in Val Gardena/Gröden has won an additional prize.

The winner of the so-called DOLOMITES Val Gardena South Tyrol Ski Trophy can look forward to an authentic 3D wooden bust, extra prize money of 5,000 euros, a short stay in Val Gardena/Gröden and a climb of the Sassolungo/Langkofel accompanied by a local expert mountain guide. The DOLOMITES Val Gardena Südtirol Ski Trophy in Val Gardena/Gröden will be awarded to the racer who scores the most World Cup points in the three races.

The defending champion is again Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who has won the additional prize four times (2022, 2020, 2018, and 2017). Kjetil Jansrud, Rasmus Windingstad, and the US American Bryce Bennett also made it onto the winners' list.

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