Sweden wins team event in World Cup Finals in Aspen
Sweden had a ringer on its team to help win the Alpine Team Event in the World Cup Finals in Aspen on Friday.
Frida Hansdotter led her six-member team to victory over Germany in the finals. Sweden won three races to one for Germany.
Hansdotter won the season title in women’s slalom last year, when Mikaela Shiffrin missed several races with injury.
“It feels great. To do with this as a team, it’s so fun,” Hansdotter said after the race. “In the start gate, to have a girl on the side and know it’s really this run, that you have to ski fast, I think it was super fun today.”
The team event was a crowd-pleaser as well. The grandstand at the Lift 1A base was about as full as for Wednesday’s downhill races and Thursday’s super-G.
The team race provided a break at the Finals between the speed races on Wednesday and Thursday, and the technical events coming Saturday and Sunday.
The team event has slowly gained steam on the World Cup circuit in recent years and it has been added as an Olympic event for 2018.
Fans were treated to about an hour of nonstop action Friday. The event is popular because the racers compete on a slalom course side-by-side rather than one at a time in a race against the clock. The entire course was visible from the grandstand, so spectators could see for themselves who won.
Eight nations fielded teams of six racers each, three of each gender. Four racers from each team squared off in head-to-head competition, racing on the dual slalom courses. The winning team from the four races advanced to the next round. The losers were eliminated.
The U.S. and Canada didn’t compete. The U.S. Ski Team said in a statement it didn’t have enough technical skiers qualify for the World Cup Finals to field a team. Its athletes that didn’t qualify for the Finals are currently in the NorAm Cup Finals in Quebec.
Sweden rallied from the lowest seed past top-seeded Austria three races to one in the opening round.
Sweden squeaked by France in the quarterfinal round. They were tied 2-2 in races, but Sweden had a lower combined time.
Hansdotter and teammates Emelie Wikstroem and Mattias Hargin won the finals against Germany to clinch the victory. Andre Myhrer missed a gate and was the lone loser in the heat, but it was of no consequence. Myhrer has four finishes in the top 10 in slalom this season.
“I’ve always liked this discipline and it’s nice that we get to do it more and more,” Myhrer told NBCSN television in an interview after the race. “Like here today, you win or lose as a team, and I think that’s pretty cool for a skier. We had a really good team. I’m looking forward to the Olympics next year.”
France skunked Italy 4-0 to earn third place.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.