Did you grow up glued to the TV on a Sunday teatime?
If you weren’t, what else could you have been doing? Ski Sunday was on!
Yes, it’s that time of year where Ski Sunday makes a welcome return to our TV screens.
A quick burst of that famous music and I’m transported back to my childhood. Memories of watching legends of the sport across the 1990s and 2000s such as Hermann Maier, Alberto Tomba and of course Michael Walchhofer flood back to me.
After going through a period where the likes of Bode Miller and Didier Cuche swept aside the competition in the late 2000s, skiing has been taken over by another Austrian – Marcel Hirscher.
Currently top of the overall FIS World Cup standings, the Austrian has proved to be almost unbeatable in the Slalom discipline and his placing of second behind the USA’s Ted Ligety in the Giant Slalom confirms his status as the number one skier in the world right now.
This week’s Parallel Slalom in Moscow perfectly evidenced his lofty position within the sport.
The Parallel Slalom is held on a 56 metre-high ramp in the middle of Moscow (there is also one in Munich earlier in the season), providing a left-right course of 175 metres which racers navigate in around 20 seconds. It is to skiing what Twenty20 is to cricket – and it’s every bit as exciting.
Racers ski head-to-head over two runs in a knockout system, but there was no stopping Hirscher as he blew the competition away, crushing the likes of Ivica Kostelic and Andre Myhrer on his way to an emphatic win.
With the World Championships beginning next week in the revered host resort of Schladming, Austria, Hirscher will be hot favourite to scoop gold in the slalom in front of his vociferous home support.
In the women’s competition, Slovenia’s Tina Maze is the dominant force. In the overall standings, she has more than double the points of her nearest rival, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch, and leads the Super G and Giant Slalom competitions while also occupying podium positions in the Downhill and Slalom events.
Thanks to Ski Sunday’s excellent coverage we get to see all the great drama of this fantastic sport.
From wincing at the horrific crashes on the icy slopes of some of Europe’s most feared courses, to watching racers launch themselves off infamous jumps like the Hundschopf (Dog’s Head) at Wengen, Switzerland.
Great Britain’s most famous skier, Graham Bell, now retired, takes hand-held cameras down the terrifying courses, giving viewers an amazing insight into the speed and danger of a world-class Downhill course.
His entertaining co-presenter Ed Leigh adds great value to one of the BBC’s most famous shows, and the cast was recently enriched further when Olympic skeleton-bob gold medallist Amy Williams joined the show.
Ski Sunday gives this addictive, breathtaking sport the coverage it deserves, and I will continue to be glued to my TV for as long as it endures on our screens.