Top alpine skiers warm up in Moscow ahead of World Champs
Ahead of this week's World Alpine Skiing Championships in Austria the World Cup calendar managed to squeeze in one final stage, though it wasn't in the Alps but in the Russian capital.
It may be surprising to see alpine skiing competitions not only far from the mountains, but also in big cities. But if you don't have a mountain, you can always build one. Such "man made" events have had a significant mark on the World Cup calendar over the past three years. And this season, for the first time ever, two cities have hosted parallel slalom events: Munich and Moscow. It was officials in Moscow, who proposed including such events in the World Cup calendar after two exhibition tournaments in 2009 and 2010. The Russian capital finally hosted its inaugural World Cup stage last year.A year after sixteen men and as many women went head-to-head in a knock-out parallel slalom on a ramp of around 60 metres in height and with a 200-metre piste in the north of Moscow.Despite missing some big names, who are preparing for the World Championships the season's top skiers arrived in the capital to the delight of the crowd in one of Moscow's biggest parks.In the women's competition current world champion Tina Maze, who tops this season's World Cup rankings, surprisingly failed to make it to the semi-finals – the Slovenian finished only fifth.It was 21-year-old Lena Durr, who stole the show having never before finished in the top five. The German went all out – reaching the two-legged final, where she edged Slovakian Veronica Zuzulova, the winner in Munich.With overall and slalom points on offer, Marcel Hirscher had a chance to extend his lead in the men's standings. The Austrian took full advantage beating Ivica Kostelic of Croatia in the last four before lining up alongside Swede Andre Myhrer in the deciding run.Twenty-three-year-old Hirscher was second in Munich but nothing could stop him from clinching his sixth win of the season.Hirscher consequently increased his lead in the overall World Cup standings with just four stages to go and produced a good warm-up, ahead of the World Championships in his native Austria.Meanwhile, despite a disappointing performance Maze remains top of the women's table as the focus moves back to the real mountains this week.