World Cup According to Grande: Girls go to Arber

By Greg Needell
Alpine Race Consulting
Published: February 4, 2011

Arber-Zwiesel, Germany is coming up for the ladies and I have been off the blog for a few days now. It's been tough to keep up as we have been traveling through the West from Wenatchee to Jackson to Big Sky doing our own racing thing. After four days of great racing surfaces and hard work by the race organizer and race crew at Snow King, we all packed up and headed north to Big Sky for the Western Region Speed series which has been excellent as well.

Greg Needell

Greg Needell

The snow has been near perfect and the SG races went without a real hitch. If you don't count -30 degrees Fahrenheit as a hitch. But it has been warming steadily and our first DH training run was completed today. There are two very nice jumps for the athletes to learn on and we have been blessed by the presence of former World Cup racers Scott Macartney and Kevin Francis in the races which has been great for the kids to see and compete against. Thanks again to the race crews in Jackson and Big Sky!

The Arber Region is a crystal making area near the Czech border in Germany and is home to Joska, the makers of the Crystal Globes the FIS World Cup awards at the end of the season. So it might be more obvious why they have a chance to host a World Cup in what might seem like an out of the way place. And after this, the girls head back to Garmisch and the World Championships.

So, the last World Cup in Zwiesel was in 2007. The slalom was won by Marlies Schild, who I still think is the best slalom skier in the women's world. Sarka Zahrobska was third and unless she has found some magic in the last couple of weeks, she isn't coming near the finish line, let alone the podium. Maria Riesch was not that great here but really, four seasons ago is not much to go on. So we need to go on recent past performances which have been few of late. Poutiainen has been good, as has Schild when she doesn't ski out and Riesch has been quite good. I do wonder about the home-town help the German girls will get as the Arber is not exactly a central location. I also hear things are going to be warming up into the weekend in central Europe and the snow could be marginal. Schild starts second and I am thinking that might be the difference if the surface breaks down. MPH starts sixth and could be a player on this hill. By all accounts she is skiing very well and is up to speed. I think the other one to look at in the top seven is Zettel. She should finally be back from her nagging hip injury and be able to really charge. After that I am always a fan of Nastasia Noens from France who has charged into the top 15 and drew eight. Also, Zuzulova (SVK) has bib 12 and a good history on this hill.