From touching friendships and intense rivalries to ground-breaking hairstyles and golden rounds of cheese, here are seven moments that stood out for us from the 2018-19 World Para Alpine Skiing World Cup.
1. Hair dare
The USA’s Spencer Wood showed up for his career’s first World Cup race in Zagreb, Croatia, sporting a bold hairstyle never seen before on the circuit.
A mix of bald patches and spiky tufts, the style was given to Wood by teammate Thomas Walsh as part of the USA team’s “rookie haircut” tradition. By team rules, Wood was only allowed to shave it off after he earned his first World Cup podium, and Wood proved so eager to change his cut that he won a bronze in slalom on the second day of competition.
“Everyone is giving me compliments and they’re excited to see that there’s a newcomer on the circuit,” Wood said of his eye-catching entrance. “But my girlfriend’s not a huge fan and my mother just laughed at me.”
The US skier was not the only one walking around with questionable hair at the World Cup. Great Britain’s head coach John Clark was equally outstanding with his red-turned-pink coif - an aftermath of a losing bet he made with his athletes Menna Fitzpatrick and Jennifer Kehoe.
“He made a daft bet with us, which we couldn’t really lose,” Kehoe said of Clark betting that the pair would not win the gold in the women’s downhill vision impaired at the 2019 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships.
2. Marie’s magic
France’s Marie Bochet was dazzling this season, winning all of her races and collecting the perfect set of awards in the women’s standing class - five medals at the 2019 World Championships followed by the overall World Cup title.
“The globe is very special for me because it shows your consistency as an athlete, but I already also have a few things to work on next,” Bochet said. “It’s nice because when I think of that, I think that I will have more to achieve next season.”
3. Female friendships
Bochet missed only one crystal globe this season, the overall in slalom, which went to Canada’s Frederique Turgeon. The two skiers are close friends and their heartfelt embraces at the finish line became a staple good-feel moment of the World Cup this season.
Japan’s Ammi Hondo and Momoka Muraoka also never went a race without giving each other a hug. As a standing skier, Hondo was the first to ski and would wait at the finish line until sit skier Muraoka finished her race. The two friends served as each other’s photographers during victory ceremonies where they also threw flower bouquets for the other to catch.
4. Cheese hunt
Cheese was the word at the World Cup stop in Veysonnaz, Switzerland where all the medallists got hefty rounds or half-rounds of raclette cheese.
As the races went on, the cheese became a source of prestige for athletes at the village and the key motivation for taking their skiing into the next gear.
“At the start, we are joking with the French guys. We say, ‘Go for the raclettes!’ Not for the medal, go for the raclettes!” Bochet said. “It’s a good goal.”
5. Rivals at the ready
The rivalry between Jesper Pedersen and Jeroen Kampschreur, both 19 years old and skilled in all disciplines, reached its highest peak this season.
Only a few points apart in the overall ranking and usually seconds apart in their race results, the Norwegian and Dutch sit skiers were mentioned together so many times that the announcer in Veysonnaz once mistakenly referred to Kampschreur as Jeroen Pedersen.
Their rivalry stretched all the way to the World Cup finals in Morzine, France, where Pedersen claimed the overall title and evened out the score for Kampschreur winning five gold medals at the 2019 World Championships.
“It motivates me a lot and I’m sure it does motivate him as well. We just want to beat each other,” Kampschreur said. “That makes us push harder while skiing.”
6. Alpine tan
Spring skiing reached its pinnacle in La Molina, Spain, where the athletes alternated races with tanning sessions. Dutch sit skier Barbara van Bergen took in the sun in a tank top while USA’s Walsh got a tan around his ski goggles.
Some skiers, including Kampschreur and Sweden’s Aron Lindstroem, were left disoriented by the heat wave. But others, like Austria’s Markus Gfatterhofer who made a breakthrough in La Molina with his career’s first World Cup podiums, were basking in the glow.
“The Spanish sun is good for me. I like it!” Gfatterhofer said.
7. Farewell fashion
The 2018-19 season saw several retirements from the sport, but none as visually memorable as Braydon Luscombe’s sign off in La Molina. Donning a pair of cut-off jeans and a denim vest with memorabilia patches, the Canadian standing skier rolled through his last World Cup race in impeccable style.
“I had to go with the Canadian tuxedo,” Luscombe said of the vest. “It’s our little thing we have with the team. Every night we hand this vest out to someone who did something extraordinary or did something funny so I got it last night and thought I would rock it today on the course.”