Gladiators

Image:Gladiators
14. Dec, 2016 Written by: Elan
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In Roman times, gladiators were slaves who fought lions and other deadly creatures. While the thrill seeking public only wanted bread and circuses, Gladiators continuously toed the ne line between life and death. Only the select few were brave and skilled enough to earn their freedom.

Some two thousand years later, things have changed quite a bit. The role of ancient gladiators has been assumed by modern day athletes,
but the rules are completely different. Not only are they free citizens, they are global superstars and setters of trends followed by the adoring crowds. The most gladiatorial aspects can be found in sports that pit two or more rivals against each other in direct contact.
Boxing and other fight sports, as well as many team sports, have a certain primal attraction. Alpine skiing is among the most attractive sports, but carving turns through red and blue gates against the clock, one competitor at a time, could hardly be classified as gladiatorial.

 

HOWEVER ...

There is a ski discipline that is all adrenaline, battle and show ... Ski cross may not have its own Lauberhorn or Streif, but it has many unique elements that make the sport at least as engaging as
the downhill races on legendary tracks. The discipline of ski cross holds all the virtues of alpine skiing. In a way, it is an amalgam of slalom, giant slalom, downhill, super G and freeskiing, but the main difference is the full contact. Racers are not alone on the track, they have to jostle for position with three to five more skiers, all focused on the same thing - to get to the finish line first. In ski cross, the stopwatch doesn’t matter. Well, times are measured in qualifying runs in order to place competitors into groups of four or,
at the X Games, six. A better qualification time allows a competitor to choose their starting position during elimination runs and one of the gates is always just slightly faster than the others. But once the elimination rounds begin, the stopwatch holds no power. What matters is line selection, tactics, courage, feel for the skis and overtaking, and perhaps some wrestling skills. Of course, these must be applied with as much grace as possible
- there are certain rules. No pulling or pushing is allowed. If a competitor pulls on another with their hand, they are automatically disqualified.

 

ATTRACTION

A battle of four racers blasting down a track at the same time is a recipe for true spectacle. Tracks are full of bumps, waves, banked turns and jumps. It is like watching a roller coaster on snow or a children’s cartoon. But for the racers it’s all too real, including the death defying jumps where each has to find their own position in the air. Jumps can exceed sixty meters in length, but the norm is between thirty and forty meters.

Competitors most often use giant
slalom skis and wear slightly more baggy clothing. The atmosphere tends to be more relaxed as well, although things have gotten serious over the past few years. Ski cross has become very popular in certain skiing countries, so racers have become more serious and focused.

 

MAJOR RACES

The International Ski Federation (FIS) places ski cross among free skiing disciplines. Perhaps it is because the races are not decided by hundredths of a second. But the classification does not matter much. Ski cross racers have their own world championships. Starting with Vancouver in 2010, ski cross is also now an Olympic sport.

 

TEAM ELAN

Elan’s racing green is represented very
well at the most important races of the ski cross calendar. The frontman of the team is
the Slovenian ace Filip Flisar. His achievements include the small crystal globe of the World Cup Champion of 2012 and the World Championship title from Kreischberg in 2015. Filip began his career as an alpine skier and later switched
to ski cross. He is living proof that ski cross
is much more than a sport for failed alpine skiers. Filip’s body is a beautiful instrument.
He is one of those rare sporting talents that
can conquer any sport they set their mind to and when he straps on a pair of skis, it shows. When asked about his definition of ski cross, he answers somewhat surprisingly: “To me, ski cross is most similar to motocross. We have a track where four guys line up together at the start, even six at the X Games in the USA. The track has jumps, bumps, dips, turns and all the other stuff to make our riding harder, but they also make for an amazing spectator’s sport.
Ski cross requires the full spectrum of skiing knowledge and skill.”

The women’s side of the team received
a massive reinforcement this year in the
form of the excellent Canadian Kelsey Serwa, double X Games winner (2011 and 2016), World Champion from Deer Valley in 2011 and Olympic silver medalist from Sochi 2014. Just like Flisar, she too is a sports genius who is just as adept at riding a mountain bike or surfboard as she is on a set of Elans pointed downhill.

Along with them, the team is made up of a colorful bunch of international athletes: Slovenian Blaž Ogorelc, Frenchmen Terence Tchiknavorian and Sebastien Lapage, Canadians Brady Leman, Kevin Drury and Mathieu Leduc, Russians Egor Korotkov and Semen Denshchikov.

They all race, jump and fight on slightly customised Elan GSX skis. Thanks to them, Elan’s signature green will receive its share of the limelight in the coming winter.

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