A review of the recent World Ski Championships in Vaile from Snowsports Ireland. The ladies team of Tess Arbez, Florence Bell and Victoria Bell along with the men’s team of Maxime Arbez, Conor Lyne and Pat McMillan selected by Snowsport Association of Ireland (SAI) represented Ireland in the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail / Beaver Creek, CO, USA from 2nd to 15th February ably coached by Alain Untergassmair.
The weather for the technical events – Slalom and Giant Slalom was perfect with firm skiing condition, other than the final day where snow on top of an injected slalom course made it difficult for even the top World Cup Racers.
Following a number of days of training with other teams such as the USA, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria and the UK among others, both teams competed in Giant Slalom and Slalom events on perfectly prepared slopes. While the Ladies went straight through to the final in Beaver Creek, one of 2 venues used for competition, the men had to qualify for the final and then had to get into the top 60 in the first run to compete in the second run.
All athletes competed to the best of their abilities against the world’s top professional ski racers and still found the time to represent Ireland at publicity events, including autograph signing sessions for the public organised by the event committee.
All athletes posted personal bests including:
- Tess Arbez, finishing just outside the top 60 in the first run of the Giant Slalom. Tess also finished just outside the top 60 in the final of the Slalom at Beaver Creek and good Championship experience for the upcoming Junior World's
- Pat McMillan qualified for the final of the Giant Slalom by finishing in the top half in a field of 110 competitors before competing in the final 100 competitors at Beaver Creek. He also finished in the top half of the Slalom qualifier.
- Maxime Arbez demonstrated some excellent skiing in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom – experience that will stand to him in future.
- Florence Bell competed in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom finals while her sister Victoria focused on the Slalom, competing in the final. Both skied with good form on challenging course sets.
- Conor Lyne, having had a spectacular crash in the Men’s Giant Slalom qualifier, put it behind him to qualify for the Slalom final at Beaver Creek. There he finished a creditable 41nd after two very different runs on an icy, difficult course.
All credit must be given to Alain Untergassmair, the team coach who worked tirelessly with all the athletes, from dawn to dusk, helping with training time scheduling, video breakdown analysis and instruction after the day, along with attending and coaching during the races, often at two separate events during race days. He and Team Manager John Lyne worked hard to ensure the athletes had the best support during the World Championship.