Men Podium - Photo : T.Bourbon
Men Podium - Photo : T.Bourbon

Most of the SPEED SLALOM COMPETITION took place on Saturday morning-ish, the Men's and Women's categories alternating at each round.
A slight weather improvement with a timid sun on the Trocadéro, hiding from time to time behind a bulky cloud, before making a fleeting appearance and disappearing again. At least the rain has gone away.... until it's back!

The best 16 men and women are qualified for the KO Systems.
An impressive Top-3 for the men: The first qualified is Italian World Leader SIMONE NAI OLEARI (WR#1) – two perfect runs, with a time of 4.271 for his second attempt. He takes a 0.2'' lead on the second, Chinese GUO FANG (#4), who also has a 0.2'' lead on the third qualified skater, Brazilian DIEGO ARAUJO (#11)! Russians, Polish, French, Koreans as well as more Italians and Chinese complete the Top-16.

Great fights with palpable suspense in both categories as soon as the Quarter-Finals:
The two Women's world leaders meet each other in a remake of the last World Championships' final... but with a different ending: BARBARA BOSSI (#2) wins over CRISTINA ROTUNNO (#1) after a false start and three runs. In the men's, World No.1 meets previous World No.1: another prematurate final in which SIMONE NAI OLEARI gets the better of YOHAN FORT on the third run: the two opponents are clean, he is just faster.

A fratricidal meeting during the Women's Semi Finals featuring the GRANJON SISTERS: Zoé needs three runs to take the advantage over Lily, catching up her sister who had won the first run.
While SIMONE NAI OLEARI only needs two runs to secure his place in the final, knocking out LAN WANG HENG, the second semi-final is a breath-holder: GUO FANG loses on the third run because of a first-cone penalty, offering a well-deserved final to DIEGO DE ARAUJO.

Two uni-national consolation finals:
A French one for the Women's, with TIFFANY DERISBOURG winning against LILY GRANJON; And a Chinese one for the Men's, with LANG WANG HENG winning over GUO FANG in two runs. Flying caps are disturbing... and may cost a medal. Proof here. Congratulations to the two Chinese whose plane just landed in the morning!

Lan Wang Heng (Chn) - Photo : T.Bourbon
Lan Wang Heng (Chn) - Photo : T.Bourbon

Close-up on the SPEED FINALS:

Women's Final. A three-run fight. BARBARA BOSSI keeps her title thanks to a clean performance facing ZOE GRANJON who doesn't hold the pressure and is disqualified for too many cones down.
That victory may offer the Italian enough points to take the lead at the world ranking next month!

B.BOSSI – "I don't like the ground here, but I like Paris! I did a few mistakes because the schedule alternating between the men's and the women's was a bit disturbing, and the weather didn't help either, but I'm really glad of this victory".

B.Bossi (Ita) - Photo : T.Bourbon
B.Bossi (Ita) - Photo : T.Bourbon

Men's Final. A diluvian rain suddenly falls. The finalists have the time to skate only two runs before the area is impracticable. But a third run is needed!
Water is winning ground, invading the lines and the ramps under the tents. The judges decide to start the final from scratch again, despite the damp ground, but without the wet lauching ramps.
The second final is as impressive as the first two cancelled runs: two reactive, fast and clean skaters fighting for Gold!
One run in favor of each skater (again): Back to square one.
Third and decisive run: A first False start for Diego.
False start again due to a computer failure.
Third false start for Simone.
Fourth start for the third run of the second final of the Men's (!!) Four penalties for Diego... and zero penalty for SIMONE NAI OLEARI who wins the "craziest final [he] has ever skated". Diego was "really happy to fight that amazing final against such an opponent".

Next to come: Battles at the PSWC 2013

D.De Araujo (Bra) at the start - Photo : T.Bourbon
D.De Araujo (Bra) at the start - Photo : T.Bourbon
Women's podium - Photo : T.Bourbon
Women's podium - Photo : T.Bourbon

Article written by C.Seyres - May 2013