When it comes to close finishes and last-minute drama, the final day of individual men’s races at the Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships packed a real punch on Friday (21 January).
The men’s sitting event saw a shocking ending when defending champion Jeroen Kampschreur slid out with two gates left to the finish line in Run 2.
Looking calm and focused despite a multitude of fans cheering for him at the finish line, Jesper Pedersen managed two fast runs to pick up the gold.
The Norwegian’s consistency has been outstanding throughout Lillehammer 2021 as he is the only male skier to reach the podium in each of the five individual races. Pedersen earlier won gold in downhill and giant slalom, and also has silver medals in super-G and super combined.
“To be able to take three golds here at home, it’s pretty amazing. It’s been a lot of pressure of course, but I’m very happy to be able to take the three golds from here,” Pedersen said.
“I was hoping for this. This is what I’ve been training for these last three years so it’s amazing to be able to take home the golds from Norway. And now we can look forward to Beijing.”
France’s Victor Pierrel earned his first major medal, a silver, in Lillehammer, while Dutch skier Niels de Langen picked up his second bronze in a race less than half the field managed to finish.
DRAMA IN 0.01 SECONDS
In the men’s standing slalom, the difference between the two top skiers was only 0.01 seconds after Run 1, and the drama did not stop there.
Defending champion Arthur Bauchet put up a blazing second run in an effort to beat Run 1 leader Aleksei Bugaev. The effort proved excessive, however, as the RPC skier fell in the final metres of the race.
While Bugaev managed to bounce back and continue, the mistake dropped him down to sixth place - the first time he missed the podium at Lillehammer 2021.
“It was a really good battle after the first run with Bugaev, 0.01 is nothing,” Bauchet said. “It was difficult to approach the second run and I said, ‘OK, you have to give all you have in the second run’. It’s sad that Bugaev fell at the finish, but I did a good run this whole length and I hope we can have a battle like this again.”
PyeongChang 2018 slalom champion Adam Hall brought New Zealand its first medal at Lillehammer 2021 when he took silver in the men’s standing event. It was his first major competition since the Paralympic Winter Games.
“It’s good to be back at the World Championships level,” said Hall, who missed the 2019 edition because his daughter was born at the same time. “To be back and competing competitively and to come away with the medal is a really good benchmark to see where I’m at getting into the Games at Beijing.”
RPC’s Alexander Alyabyev took the bronze, his first World Championships medal in seven years.
It was also a tight finish in the men’s vision impaired slalom where Austria’s Johannes Aigner mirrored his twin sister’s feat from the day before and won a career’s first world title.
Aigner’s golden runs put him just 0.11 seconds ahead of defending champion Giacomo Bertagnolli of Italy.
“I’m really happy for Barbara to be the first and I’m very happy that it went well this day,” Aigner said.
“The two runs were good. The slope was hard. It was really grippy so the slope was in really good condition and it was perfect today.”
Slovakia’s Jakub Krako picked up the bronze.
His teammate, 2019 silver medallist in the discipline Miroslav Haraus was also in a position to challenge for a medal after finishing fourth in Run 1. However, he suffered a rare setback of a guide falling during the race and could not complete his second run.
The Para alpine races of the Lillehammer 2021 World Para Snow Sports Championships continue with the women’s slalom on Saturday, 22 January.
The Lillehammer 2021 World Championships is streamed live on the World Para Snow Sports Facebook page and the Para alpine skiing website.
Pictures for editorial purposes are available on Flickr.