FIS Skiing 2009 – Welcome back Ski Sunday – Wenger Downhill

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The BBC brought back Ski Sunday to our screens in the UK this week with a welcome change in format. Relegated to a secondary show – High Altitude – are the recreational pieces that plagued mainstream coverage of the competitive skiing last year. Ed Leigh and Graham Bell continue as helmsmen but the focus is very much on the sport. This week it was the Men’s Downhill on the Lauberhorn course in Wengen, Switzerland. The Beeb has availed itself of digital options used in its Olympics coverage to provide viewers with additional coverage – this week the red button offered the Giant Slalom heats.

Its been an interesting season opener with old favourites not quite back to their 2008 form. Team America’s Bode Miller just failed to take the Downhill competition for the 3rd year in a row at Wengen, losing out to home boy Dider Defago to the obvious joy of the home crowd. Both runs were sofa-gripping stuff – Bode never fails to ski on the edge(s). Mario Sullivan of the USA took 3rd. Swiss champion and crowd favourite from last year, Dider Cuche, could only manage 10th. Back-to-form Norwegian Aksel-Lund Svindal skied the longest course on the FIS circuit to come in 15th (stated as 12th by the BBC – come on chaps ! Check out the FIS official results before pronouncing). Old favourites, the Austrians Michael Walchhofer and Hermann ‘Hermannator’ Maier jointly nabbed disappointing 26th place.

Britain’s Finlay Mickel is out this year but youngster Ed Drake represented the UK with a journeyman 55th place. It is early days and, with the World Cup coming up in February, Ed has some work to do. Based on this heat, the racing is going to be exciting. Chemy Alcott is due to be back next week in the Women’s Downhill in Cortina. Nice to see Shelly Rudman mentioned – Britain’s world class skeleton bobsleigh pilot who continues to lead the Women’s World rankings.

Ski Sunday also paid tribute to David Vine, the programme’s inaugural presenter, who died last week. Vine was a huge TV presence and a regular for most of my formative years watching snooker, tennis and skiing coverage on the BBC.

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