Only two Finns can look back on FIS Alpine World Ski Championships with any degree of satisfaction
For Finnish athletes, the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany ended on a distinctly minor-key note on Sunday, bringing to a close a competition that - with two exceptions - was utterly forgettable from the home audience's perspective.
Not one of the four Finnish men achieved any result in the final event, namely the slalom.
Kalle Palander, Marcus Sandell, and 17-year-old rookie Santeri Paloniemi all had a DNF against their name on their first descent. In the second round, Victor Malmström’s name was added to the list, after he had posted the 45th fastest time on his first run, some seven seconds adrift of the halfway leader.
Even though there had been no great expectations for the final event, it was way below par, describing in a way the general tone of the entire men's season to this point.
For the Finnish male skiers, the 2010/11 World Cup season has been dominated by repeated failures to negotiate the course all the way to the finish line. For example, for Kalle Palander this DNF was his tenth in succession.
The Finns’ success percentage on the slopes of Garmisch-Partenkirchen remained embarrassingly modest. Among the seven athletes in action, only two could be said to have emerged with anything like honour intact.
Marcus Sandell’s 10th place in the men’s giant slalom brought plenty of new and much-needed credibility for his career.
In addition, a couple of days prior to the Alpine World Ski Championships, Sandell placed 7th in a World Cup giant slalom event, indicating that he is returning to the potentuial he displayed before his serious accident in 2009.
The only other Finnish alpine skier who enjoyed a measure of success in Germany was 21-year-old Andreas Romar, who came home 9th in the super combined event (7th in the downhill and 18th in the slalom).
Tanja Poutiainen certainly continues to be one of the world’s best female Alpine skiers in the technical disciplines, even though these championships were a bitter disappointment for her.
In the giant slalom (13th) she clearly failed to cope with the soft conditions on a relatively easy track that did not suit her style, and in Saturday's slalom (6th) she had lots of bad luck, and saw a certain medal - and even a chance of overall victory - snatched away by a blunder just a few gates from home.
However, perhaps we should not be too picky: the Finnish Alpine skiers’ poor success at the World Ski Championships was even worse four years ago in Sweden in 2007.
And Tanja Poutiainen still has a chance of collecting honours in the FIS World Cup, where she remains 4th overall, and 2nd and 3rd respectively in the slalom and giant slalom standings.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Same placings, wildly different sentiments (8.2.2011)
FIS Alpine World Championships - Results