Two HEAD Worldcup Rebels skied to the podium for the first time in the World Cup this weekend: Laura Gauché raced to third place in the Downhill in Crans Montana on Sunday with bib number 26. Albert Popov also finished third on Sunday in the Slalom at Palisades Tahoe.
"Laura Gauché's podium was super cool. It was the first podium for us with a French athlete in the women's Downhill. She really put everything into it and deserved this result," says HEAD Racing Director Rainer Salzgeber. "It was also a brilliant day for Albert Popov. He is the first Bulgarian athlete to reach the podium since Petar Popangelov. Albert had an excellent race. His coach set the second run. For him it also made up for the World Championship. I am sure this was not the last time we will see him on the podium. It's great to compete in such a historic place again. The enthusiasm for skiing is unbelievable here. We were stuck in traffic for 30 minutes in the morning because everyone wanted to go to the race. The work that people put into this event was also superb. We experienced winter from its harshest side here."
"I didn't expect this podium"
Laura Gauché's best World Cup result to date was fifth place in the Super-G in Zauchensee in January 2022. In the Downhill, her previous top result was seventh place in Cortina d'Ampezzo in January 2023. "I didn't expect this podium. The conditions were very different from those in training. I haven't had an easy time recently, so I'm pleased that it has worked out now. I already thought that I wouldn't manage it, and almost gave up. It means even more to me now," explained the French athlete. Ragnhild Mowinckel from Norway finished fourth, just two hundredths of a second behind the 27-year-old. Two more HEAD Worldcup Rebels were in the top 15, with Laura Pirovano from Italy in seventh place and Lara Gut-Behrami from Switzerland finishing 13th. The Downhill in Crans Montana, originally planned for Saturday, was moved to Sunday. The Super-G scheduled for Sunday has been cancelled without replacement.
Rocketing from 25th place to the podium with the fastest run
The men competed in Giant Slalom and the Slalom in Palisades Tahoe over the weekend. Until 2021, the Californian ski resort was called Squaw Valley. The last men's World Cup races to be held in this Olympic winter sports area with its long skiing tradition took place in 1969. In heavy snowfall Albert Popov delivered an awesome second run in the Slalom on Sunday. The Bulgarian athlete was in 25th place after the first run, but clocked the fastest time on the second run to climb 22 places and as a result reach the podium for the first time by finishing third. The 25-year-old's previous best result was fourth place in the Slalom in Courchevel/Meribel in March 2022. Alexis Pinturault also reached the top 15 in twelfth place. In the Giant Slalom on Saturday, the French athlete was the fastest HEAD Worldcup Rebel in seventh place.