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Olympic champions flying high

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01 Apr 2019
Olympic News
Since returning from PyeongChang 2018 laden with gold medals, many of the Olympic champions have gone on to amass world titles and World Cup victories in their respective sports. Here, we take a look at some of the success stories on snow and ice during the 2018/19 season.

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German bobsleigh pilot Francesco Friedrich, who won gold in the two-man and four-man on the sliding track at Alpensia in February 2018, continued his winning streak with the same team-mates (Thorsten Margis in the two-man, and Margis, Candy Bauer and Martin Grothkopp in the four-man) with a third consecutive double title, following up his 2017 world titles and Olympic golds in 2018 with two world crowns in Whistler (Canada) in 2019.

Meanwhile, in the World Cup, he went unbeaten in the two-man, with eight wins out of eight, while he claimed four victories and a total of seven podium finishes in the four-man, to top the overall classifications in the IBSF world circuit on both sleds. His compatriot Mariama Jamanka, who also won gold at PyeongChang 2018, leads the women’s World Cup classifications with four wins and seven podiums from eight events, and also claimed the European title at Königssee (Germany) and the world crown in Whistler this year.

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In biathlon, Norway’s Olympic individual champion Johannes Thingnes Bø, who enjoyed highs and lows at PyeongChang 2018, brought to an end seven seasons of domination by Frenchman Martin Fourcade. He set a new record of 16 victories in one World Cup season, completed a clean sweep of the crystal globes (overall, sprint, pursuit, individual and mass start) and claimed four gold medals at the World Championships in Östersund (Sweden).

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In the women’s biathlon, Sweden’s Hanna Öberg became the first female biathlete to win the world individual title as reigning Olympic champion, while Slovakia’s triple Olympic gold medallist Anastasia Kuzmina won her first world title when she finished first in the sprint in Östersund. And at the end of March, the 34-year-old brought the curtain down on her career with a sprint/pursuit double in the season’s final World Cup event in Oslo (Norway).


Kingsbury, Laffont, Klaebo, Kim, Frenzel, Lundby and Geisenberger on top of the world

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In freestyle skiing, Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury continued his dominance in the moguls, winning everything in sight. Eight consecutive victories in the moguls took his overall World Cup win total to 79, while he claimed a double gold in the singles and parallel event at the Worlds in Park City (USA). Meanwhile, on 23 February in Tazawako (Japan), he became the first freestyle skier to complete a Cork 1440 in competitive conditions. France’s Perrine Laffont, who won Olympic gold at the age of just 19 at PyeongChang 2018, has been an ever-present on the podium in nine World Cup events this season, and like Kingsbury won the small crystal globe in the moguls and the large crystal ball in overall classifications, to go with a silver in the singles and gold in the parallel at the World Championships.

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In cross-country skiing, Norway’s triple 2018 Olympic champion Johannes Høsflot Klæbo repeated his feat at the Worlds in Seefeld (Austria), claiming the individual sprint, team sprint and 4x10km relay titles. Meanwhile, in the World Cup, he won a second large crystal globe in the overall classifications and a third small crystal globe in the sprint, as well as claiming the tour de ski title in Quebec (Canada) in March – all at the tender age of 22. His compatriot Ingvild Flugstad Østberg, a relay gold winner in PyeongChang, won a total of five medals at the Worlds, while topping the overall classifications in the World Cup.

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In snowboard, US superstar Chloe Kim completed an incredible triple in the halfpipe, claiming Olympic, X-Games and world titles at the age of just 18. In Aspen (USA) in January, she claimed her fifth consecutive X-Games crown, while the following month in Park City she added a first World Championship title. After suffering an injury at the beginning of March her season was brought to an early end, but she has promised to come back stronger than ever. As for the phenomenal Ester Ledecka, she shone at the Alpine Skiing World Championships, while dominating the parallel snowboard World Cup circuit, claiming both the giant parallel crystal ball and the large crystal ball for the overall classifications for the fourth season running.

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Eric Frenzel continued his bid to become one of Nordic combined’s all-time greats. With three Olympic golds to his name (the small hill at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, and the team event at PyeongChang 2018), he enjoyed a relatively modest World Cup season, but saved his best for the World Championships in Seefeld, where he took gold on the large hill and in the sprint, and a silver in the team event, taking his tally to 14 medals at the Worlds, including seven titles.

For her part, Norway’s Olympic ski jump champion Maren Lundby is carrying on where she left off, with 13 wins in the 2018-2019 World Cup, a first place in the “Raw Air” tournament and a second consecutive crystal globe thanks to her overall World Cup victory! 

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Natalie Geisenberger, the German luger who completed a clean sweep of the titles at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018 (women’s singles and mixed relay on both occasions), topped the World Cup classifications for the seventh consecutive season with six victories and 12 podiums out of 12 events. She also won world titles in the singles and sprint in Winterberg (Germany) to take her overall World Championship tally to nine gold medals since 2013.


Zagitova, Hirscher and Shiffrin reign supreme

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In figure skating, Russia’s Alina Zagitova, who won the women’s Olympic title aged just 15 in 2018, went on to become world champion in March 2019 in Saitama (Japan) two months before celebrating her 17th birthday, thanks to short and free programmes that none of her rivals could come close to matching. Meanwhile, Japan’s two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu managed to bounce back from injury to win a silver at the Worlds, losing out in a titanic tussle with the USA’s Nathan Chen.

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Last but not least, in Alpine skiing Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin both built on their gold-medal winning feats in PyeongChang with further successes. The Austrian Hirscher claimed his eighth consecutive overall crystal globe in the World Cup, to go with six small crystal globes apiece in the slalom and giant slalom – giving him a total of 20, a men’s record. He was also crowned world champion in the slalom for the third time in Åre (Sweden).

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Meanwhile, Shiffrin, who has only just turned 24, continued to fire on all cylinders, setting a series of new Alpine skiing records, including an unmatched 17 victories in one season, four world titles in the same discipline (slalom), career victories in all six Alpine events (slalom, giant slalom, super-G, downhill, combined and parallel), and the highest ever points average of 85. For the first time in her career she also claimed a world title in a speed event, the super-G, finishing the season with four crystal globes (a third consecutive large crystal globe and a sixth small crystal globe in the slalom, as well as a first in the super-G and the giant slalom).

She also became just the third skier in history – after Hermann Maier in 2000 and Tina Maze in 2013 – to surpass the 2,000 points mark in a season.

Finally, Alpine skiing bid farewell to two of its all-time greats, Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal, both of whom claimed medals at PyeongChang 2018, and both of whom, in the final events of their careers, finished on the podium in the downhill at the World Championships.

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