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Parallel Races in Lech Zürs am Arlberg Preview

After Sölden, the World Cup moves to Lech Zürs am Arlberg (Austria) for the Women's and Men's Parallel Races on Saturday and Sunday.

The event will feature the following two races:

  • Saturday, 13 November: Women’s Parallel

10:00 Qualification rounds

17:00 Parallel Race

  • Sunday, 14 November: Men’s Parallel

10:00 Qualification rounds

16:00 Parallel Race

This new discipline has been introduced in the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in Alta Badia, in December 2015. The dual, head-to-head format has taken different formats since its apparition in the WC including the Parallel Slalom (PSL) and Parallel Giant Slalom (PGS). Now the discipline is simply named "Parallel". The race will be conducted as a Parallel Race with a qualification. The best 16 ranked competitors from the qualification are qualified for the Parallel Race. The decision to cut the qualifying racers from the 32 of previous seasons to 16 was taken basically answering to TV broadcaster requests, as 32 racers made the race too long to air for TV audiences. After numerous complaints, especially after the events in Sestriere and Chamonix, each heat between competitors consists of two runs. The two competitors change courses for the second run.

Flexenarena in Zürs. Racecourse. Picture: Erich Spiess, Ski Club Arlberg

The Flexenarena in Zürs. Racecourse facts:

  • Start Elevation: 1,820 m

  • Finish Elevation: 1,718 m

  • Vertical Drop: 102 m

  • Distance: 365 m

  • Average slope: 29 %

  • Max. slope: 50 %

The Women's Parallel event will be contested for the third time in the World Cup.

Clara Direz won in Sestriere on 19 January 2020 the first Parallel. Clara Direz could join Tessa Worley (14) as the only active French woman to achieve multiple World Cup wins.

Last season Petra Vlhova won the Parallel event in Lech Zürs after defeating surprise finalist Paula Moltzan in the Big Final.

Paula Moltzan skied very consistently throughout the whole evening, eliminating Marta Bassino on her way to the big final. It was the first podium in the World Cup for the American after she earned her first top 10 in Sölden. In the big final, Moltzan crashed and skied out in the last section of the course.

Lara Gut topped Sara Hector of Sweden in the Small Final. Hector missed the final by only 0.01 sec. The Swiss star showed incredible form, scoring the fastest time in the qualifications this morning. She only surrendered to Paula Moltzan in the semi-final.

Gut-Behrami (32) is one shy of equalling Hanni Wenzel (33) in ninth place on the all-time list for most World Cup wins among women.

Marta Bassino and Katharina Liensberger shared the win in the parallel event at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The Men's Parallel will be held for the eighth time in the World Cup. The first five editions were staged in Alta Badia before the event moved to Chamonix and Lech.

The seven previous Men's Parallel events have been won by seven different skiers: Kjetil Jansrud (2015), Cyprien Sarrazin (2016), Matts Olsson (2017), Marcel Hirscher (2018), Rasmus Windingstad (2019), and Loïc Meillard (2020).

Last season Alexis Pinturault won the Parallel event in Lech Zürs after defeating Henrik Kristoffersen in the Big Final by 0.11 seconds. After scoring the second-fastest time in the qualifications, Pinturault managed to overcome all his opponents, prevailing on Alexander Schmid (GER) in the semi-final and on the Norwegian rival in the final. Pinturault is the first skier to win a World Cup Race in six different disciplines.

Alexis Pinturault (2) is one of four men to have won multiple World Cup events with a knockout format (parallel, city event), alongside Hirscher (3), Ivica Kostelic (2), and Ramon Zenhäusern (2). The Frenchman won the city event in Moscow on 21 February 2012.

Pinturault can become the second male skier to win a World Cup event in at least 11 successive seasons, after Alberto Tomba from 1987-88 to 1997-98.

Henrik Kristoffersen is the only male skier to have appeared in multiple finals of a World Cup Parallel. He finished runner-up to Olsson in Alta Badia on 18 December 2017 and to Pinturault in Lech on 27 November 2020.

Kristoffersen is one of five men to have recorded multiple World Cup podiums in the Parallel, alongside Pinturault, Jansrud, Hirscher (all one win and one-third place), and Alexander Schmid (two third places).

Alexander Schmid finished in third place in the last two Parallel events. These are to date his only World Cup podiums. Schmid can become the third German man to win a World Cup event with a knockout format (parallel, city event). Felix Neureuther won the city event in Munich on New Year's Day in 2013 and Linus Straßer the city event in Stockholm on 31 January 2017.

Lech. Picture: Lech Zürs Tourismus, Bernadette Otter

The Arlberg's legendary status is rooted in the history of Alpine Skiing. The cradle of Alpine skiing is located in the heart of a vast mountainous area between Tyrol and Vorarlberg. This region of Austria, one of the snowiest in the Alps inspired daring young ski pioneers at the beginning of the 20th century. Their inventiveness and ingenuity both shaped and influenced the sport of alpine skiing.

No one better embodies this local pioneering spirit better than Hannes Schneider. Born in Stuben am Arlberg, he founded Austria's first ski school in St. Anton in 1921, thereby revolutionizing skiing with his ‘stem christie’ technique.

When a village with just 1,500 inhabitants has four Olympic champions in Alpine ski racing, who have won five Olympic gold medals, such as Trude Jochum-Beiser (Gold in the Combined Event in 1948 in St. Moritz, and in Downhill in Oslo in 1952) Othmar Schneider (Gold in Slalom in 1952 in Oslo), Egon Zimmermann (Gold in Downhill in1964 in Innsbruck), and Patrick Ortlieb (Gold in Downhill in1992 in Albertville) its reputation as a skiing mecca is well deserved.

Since being founded in 1901, Ski-Club-Arlberg athletes have won 83 combined medals at the Olympic Games and World Championships.

The 2016-2017 season marked a turning point in Arlberg's history with the creation of the largest interconnected ski area in Austria and one of the five largest ski domains in the world: the Ski Arlberg.

With 88 lifts and cable cars, 305 kilometers of pistes, and more than 200 ski itineraries Ski Arlberg offers infinite skiing possibilities to experience the legendary Arlberg in all its facets and immerse yourself in a unique winter paradise. From St. Anton, St. Christoph - a must-see is the legendary Hospiz Alm -, Stuben to Zürs and Lech to Schröcken and Warth.


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