2013 WORLD SLALOM SERIES REVIEW
2013 is over and the time has come for the yearly season recap, going back onto the evolution of the World Slalom Series and the changes into the rankings of Freestyle Slalom, Speed Slalom and Slides.
Chloé Seyrès for WorldSlalomSeries.com
WORLD SLALOM SERIES EVOLUTION
2011, THE TEENAGE GROWTH SPURT
The World Slalom Series, established in 2008, keep on spreading steadily over the world. The insane statistic boosts of the first years are over, yet more and more skaters are still coming to events, organized in more and more countries.
Last year's overall growth showed a little stagnation compared to 2011, which was the revelation year. Indeed, 2011 was the 4th WSS Season and a turning point, representing a peak of popularity that spoke for itself: after a 3-year childhood, the WSS underwent their teenage growth spurt in 2011 and entered adulthood in 2012. By the end of 2011, the Series had gained +27.1% of freestylers and +71,2% of speed slalomers compared to 2010 (Freestyle: 987 to 1254; Speed: 663 to 1135), enabling Speed Slalom to break free from the shadow cast by Freestyle until then.
2012, THE FOLLOWING SEASON, WAS A LOT MORE REASONABLE...
... in terms of growth, even recording a couple of negative stats, with numbers stagnating (+0.2% for men's speed slalomers), even slightly dropping as for men's freestyle slalomers (-2.6%) and competition attendance in both disciplines of Freestyle and Speed Slalom (-8.8% and -6.3%). Yet, the overall figures were still positive especially due to the women categories, which gained about +25% competitors in both disciplines.
Those negative figures of event attendance were simply due to the fact that the number of competitors was stagnating (only +5.8%, whereas 2011 recorded +44.8%) while the number of events was still consequently growing: +14.5% going from 76 to 87 events.
2012 had also its share of key-evolutions: the season was another turning point in the evolution of the WSS, with the establishing of a third official discipline, Slides, with its own ranking gathering almost 300 sliders by the end of that first season.
2013 FOLLOWED THE WAY OF 2012, WITH A SLIGHT AND STEADY GROWTH...
... stabilizing the Speed Slalom figures (+3.5% overall), catching back up with the men's freestyler loss of 2012 (+2.3%), and still recording an impressive increase in the women's freestyle category (+18.9%)! The sum of it all gives an increase of +5.6% competitors compared to 2012.
The number of events stagnates for the first time of the WSS history (86 vs. 87 last season), which means that -do the math- the curve of competition attendance is back to positive. Despite that some 2012 organizers did not renew the experience this year, the number of organizing countries is still increasing (28) with organizers back after a year off, as well as newcomers such as Greece, Hungary and Indonesia.
The Slides discipline is promisingly improving with an overall growth of +63.9% with the men's category improving its number by 57.6% (250 to 394) and the women's simply doubling its number (46 to 91). The number of slide events, of organizing countries and of event attendance have all improved by around 30% to reach 36 events organized by 17 different countries with an attendance average of 13.5 skaters per event.
All in all, the competitors' figures are still consequently growing, with an overall increase of 11.7%, including Sliders, Freestylers and Speed Slalomers. The number of events seems to be reaching a balance with an average of a little over 7 events per month over the world.
FREESTYLE WORLD RANKINGS
LAST YEAR SITUATION
Remember last year, the whole Men's Freestyle Top-5 was tight. #1 was a tie between French Romain Lebois and Korean Kim Sung Jin (Best 4 = 1300). The French only owed his crown to the second defining factor: his total score. His higher competition attendance (26 vs. 9) gave him the advantage. As for the rest of the Top-5, #5 Alexandre Claris was only 7 points behind #4 Lee Choong Goon and 19 points behind #3 Michał Sulinowski… Similar cases happened in the other categories and disciplines.
The attendance to pretend to a full WSS ranking (in Freestyle only) was more demanding this year. That was the novelty of the season: The Best 5 competition results over 12 months are now taken into consideration. The Maximum score is 1600, against 1300 for the Best 4 last year. Indeed, upgrading became essential to rank the top skaters of all categories.
RETIREMENTS AND ARRIVALS
The departure of two Top-5 skaters made a little room in the rankings this season. Russian POLINA SEMENOVA and Korean KIM SUNG JIN, respectively women's #5 and men's #2 last year, retired at the end of the 2012 season and disappeared from the Top-10s in May. German MARTIN SLOBODA, last year's #6, slips down the slope of the ranking, with but a few competitions and no podiums on main events this year.
In the Men's, Kim Sung Jin's #2 place of last year was quickly occupied by MICHAL SULINOWSKI for 7 months in a row, before being dismissed on the last straight line: Chinese YE HAO QIN seizes it in December, after a steady catching upfrom #12 to #2 during the year. He made his appearance in the Top-10 in April, secured a place in the Top-5 the next month and kept on going up theranking.
The #2 place was also briefly coveted by Korean YU JIN SEONG, last year's #7, who passed the threshold of the Top-5 in August after 5 months at the #6 place. His shooting upwards led him to the #2 place in November before dropping back to the #4 place.
THE TIES FOR #1
The leave of Kim Sung Jin enabled French ROMAIN LEBOIS (#1) to fully invest the first place with a comfortable and incontestable Best-5 jackpot of 1600 points, after a hectic year and 27 competitions. The real crown challenge happens in the Women's ranking this season, where Russian DARIA KUZNETSOVA (#1) holds on to the throne by a whisker: she and Chinese SU FEI QIAN (#2) both scored the maximum Best-5 of the season (1600) and are consequently ranked according to their full total, a criterion won hands up by the Russian who attended 16 competitions against only 6 for the Chinese.
BUNCHED ALL TOGETHER
Mentioning the closest final scores: In the Men's, Koreans YU JIN SEONG (#4) and LEE CHOONG GOON (#5) both finish the year with a Best-5 of 1414. Italian LORENZO GUSLANDI (#9) is only one point behind Russian SERGEY TIMCHENKO (#8) with respective Best-5s of 1241 and 1242, a situation echoed in the Women's with Russian OLGA SEMENIKHINA (#5) and Chinese FENG HUI (#6) with scores of 1388 and 1387.
Let's note the impressive feat of Su Fei Qian who gets a Best-5 top score with only 6 competitions. She holds the record of the less competitions attended this year in the Top-10s. Her team mates Chinese ZHANG HAO (M#7) and MENG YUN (W#8) are hardly more present withrespectively 7 and 8 competitions. The Chinese are the least present competitors and yet they are undeniably there in the charts! Conversely, the French are everywhere. The 'most competitions attended' award would go to ZOE GRANJON (W#7) with a total number of 30 participations this season, closely followed by her team mate M#1 ROMAIN LEBOIS with 27 participations. It is almost a tie with Polish couple KLAUDIA HARTMANIS and MICHAL SULINOWSKI, who both end up at the #3 place of their rankings, with respectively 27 and 26 competitions this season.
The European titles don't change hands much with a double victory in Battle and Classic for W#1 Daria Kuznetsova for the second year in a row, and a double victory for Romain Lebois too who was already the classic champion last year and who seized the battle title from his team mate Alexandre Claris to add it to his list. The latter is still European vice-champion.
The world title of battle goes one more time to China for men and women: Su Fei Qian gets her third gold medal in a row and Ye Hao Qin renews his feat of last year. Let's mention that the Chinese have been undefeated in the men's category since the creation of the WSSA World Championships, and only twice in the women's. The Men's Classic title remains in Korean hands for the third year in a row with Lee Choong Goon who ensures the continuity of Kim Sung Jin, while the Women's title is jealously guarded by Su Fei Qian who renews her double win (classic and battle) of last year.
See Hall of Fame for Complete list of Champions.
SPEED SLALOM WORLD RANKINGS
THE ITALIAN DOMINATION
The Italians have completed another year of domination of the Speed Slalom World Ranking, with SIMONE NAI OLEARI leading the men for the 17th month in a row and BARBARA BOSSI reaching the top of the world again in September, after 14 months of #2 behind her team mate CRISTINA ROTUNNO: Women's World #1 and #2 places have been requisitioned for three years now by the two Italians.
THE MEN'S RANKING
All-rounder French ALEXANDRE CLARIS managed to stabilize at the #2 place for 11 months to finally be ousted by Brazilian DIEGO DE ARAUJO and Chinese GUO FANG who respectively finish the year at the #3 and #2 places.
Chinese LAN WANG HENG was neck and neck with the French for 5 months and finally gets the #4 place of 2013 at the expense of Claris who finishes the year at the #5 place.
French ROMAIN LEBOIS and Korean YU JIN SEONG keep their respective #6 and #8 places of last year despite a few changes within the year, while Italian TIZIANO FERRARI finishes at a well-deserved #10 place that he managed to get 9 times this year.
THE WOMEN'S RANKING
In the Women's, Polish KLAUDIA HARTMANIS finally keeps her #3 place of last season despite half a year of stagnation at the #4 place. Her compatriot EWELINA CZAPLA, after having borrowed the #3 place for 6 months, finishes the year at the #5 place, just behind Russian KRISTINA LYSENKO who steadily went up the ranking to seize the #4 place on the last straight line. The French GRANJON SISTERS, Zoe and Lily, stand at the threshold of the Top5, being respectively #6 and #7.
Current Men's World #1 and #3, Simone Nai Oleari and Diego De Araujo, as well as current Women's World #2 and #1, Cristinal Rotunno and Barbara Bossi were crowned European Champions and Vice-Champions (in that order) at Warsaw.
The World Championships results offered more suspense as none of the expected favorites won: current #32 Italian Davide Piacentini won the title in front of current #2 Chinese Guo Fang, while Barbara Bossi was defeated in the final and got the silver behind world champion Wang Tzu Chien from Taipei. The latter became the first non-European skater to get the supreme title in Women's Speed Slalom.
See Hall of Fame for Complete list of Champions.
SLIDES WORLD RANKINGS
THE RUSSIAN OCCUPATION
Both Men's and Women's World Ranking are submerged by Russians. First of all at the top of the rankings, with the perfect courses of KIRILL 'REKIL' RYAZANTSEV and OLGA FOKINA who remained the whole 12 months undefeated at the top. NATALIA KRYKOVA proves to be just as unshakable at the women’s #2 place (12 months).
But the Russians control the Tops in number too, with 5 places in the Men's Top-10 and 4 in the Women's, including 2 places in both Top-5s.
THE CHINESE THREAT
The Chinese dangerously make room for themselves, though. Let's note that the Men's #2 place was challenged by Chinese ZHAO ZHEN HUA for three months, and especially by HUANG HAI YANG thanks to his win at the World Championships of Taipei, who finishes the year on the heels of Rekil. The Women's Top-5 has not yet been reached by a single Asian slider, but LIU WAN, the 2013 World Champion, is getting closer and is currently at the #7 place.
A NEW SEASON COMING UP
The new season has already started with the Thailand National Games in early January. 32 events are announced so far, although most of them still have to be confirmed, and more are to come!
Save your dates for the biggest meetings of 2014: the Hannover Inline Games will be held next weekend on Jan.31-Feb.2, the Namwon Korea Open will take place in April, the Paris Slalom World Cup is booked for the last weekend of May as usual, the European Championships will be hosted by Busto Arsizio in September and last but not least the World Skating Championships should happen in Paris in late October, although Vietnam and Singapore are also candidates!
Along with the new season comes an updated and standardized version of the whole Ruleset, with major changes in the disciplines of Classic Freestyle Slalom and Slides. Check out the overview of that upcoming new version, which is still currently being revised, HERE.
Chloé Seyrès for WorldSlalomSeries.com
RELATED ARTICLES & PAGES
- 2014 WSSA Ruleset Upcoming Update
- December 2013 World Ranking
- Hall of Fame
- 2013 Season, Event list
- 2014 Season, Event list
Other stat info by Man