Each year, the combined funeral oration is prepared during major meetings between the main leaders of world skiing. This alliance of a Super-G and slalom course will still be at the center of the discussions planned at the end of the Worlds in Cortina d’Ampezzo, as they had been in 2019 after those of Are in Sweden. Two years ago, the oracles were clear: the combiners were going to be deprived for sure of their favorite exercise, until the white smoke announced the continuation of the test, at least until the following Worlds.
A Combined at the Courchevel Worlds in 2023?
The president of the French Federation, Michel Vion, is not for nothing in this survival operation. He has at least three good reasons to defend the handset. First, he is the first world champion of the specialty in its current form, a title obtained in 1982, thirty-seven years before the gold medal of a certain Alexis Pinturault, the best French skier of the decade which s ‘was decked out in gold in 2019.
Maintaining the combined is then the best guarantee of French medals. Finally, the boss of French skiing, Savoy, would look very favorably on the maintenance of the discipline for two more years, at least until the next Worlds, which will take place… at his home, in Courchevel, in 2023. Philosopher, the skier does not worry too much. ” For ten years the death of the handset, without seeing anything coming. So why this time? He wonders.
Faced with formidable adversaries
Still, the combined is up against formidable opponents. The bosses of the television channel, ski funders, take a dim view of this event lasting almost a day and very sensitive to weather cancellations due to its double route, one for speed and the other for the slalom.
In addition, the extension of the circuit, formerly limited to three or four traditional nations (France, Austria, etc.), to emerging ski countries such as the Balkan or Scandinavian countries limits the places in the starting gates. Coaches are thus condemned to aim for the excellence of their foals in a single discipline. Good skiers are becoming an increasingly rare commodity, and places of honor are contested among half a dozen skiers.
But if the metal of the medals is the same for the winners, the impact of a combined title has nothing to do with that of a downhill or giant award. “Alexis’ combined title in 2019 gave him great confidence for the rest of his career, it relaxed him and that’s already a lot “, says the technical director of skiing Fabien Saguez.
The statistics of the 29-year-old Frenchman are impressive: in 27 high-level combined (World Cup, World Cup and Olympic Games) spread over ten years of career, he has 15 podiums, 10 victories. Including four out of the six combined organized between 2019 and 2020.
The champion will however leave this year in the unknown. Like his colleagues, he has not played any combined this year. The tightening of the calendar of World Cup events due to Covid 19 has resulted in the removal of the two combined initially planned. “My last handset is old …, comments on the reigning world champion and Olympic runner-up in the specialty. But it’s the same for everyone ”.