The Swiss rider graduated as the first ever World Champion in the Short Track history, as an elimination race went down to a close sprint between her and runner-up Evie Richards. Bronze medal for Pauline Ferrand-Prevot
The short track format could hardly ask any better than the display provided by the Elite Women in the Val di Sole race for its first historical World Championship edition. One of the most technical and emotional races in recent memory on the short distance took place on August 26th in Daolasa di Commezzadura, giving the first ever World crown to Switzerland’s Sina Frei.
The frantic up-and-downs, technical corners and berms on the 950-meter loop (repeated seven times) effectively set up an elimination race, starting from the very first corner where a contact forced several riders to put their foot to the ground.
Italy’s Eva Lechner was the first rider to take the lead, pushing the pace to leave a group of eleven riders upfront at the end of lap 2. Nevertheless, it was a mistake by the Italian on the uphill stretch on the rocks to create a break in the leading drappel, eventually reduced to eight riders and then further to six, with Evie Richards (Great Britain), Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (France) and Rebecca McConnell (Australia) battling the trio of Switzerland’s Olympic podium finishers – Jolanda Neff, Sina Frei and Linda Indergand.
It was a clearly strong Richards to make the pace for most of the race, until Ferrand-Prevot tried her move in the penultimate lap, yet failing to open much of a gap to her rivals. The best tactical move was yet to come, as Frei made a daring maneuver on the corner on descent preceding the toughest uphill stretch – the most suited to her characteristics.
The Swiss dug deep, and it was again Richards pulling the chase to try and close a small, yet so valuable gap. The Brit threw herself into the final corners, launching her sprint in the wake of the Swiss, but eventually failed the overtake by a matter of centimeters. Gold for Frei, Switzerland, silver for Richards, Great Britain, third place and bronze medal for Ferrand-Prevot and France, again on the podium after having won all the previous events so far at #ValdiSole2021.