In recent years the International Skiing Federation has shown that it's willing to take a few chances experimenting with new sports and events, from the addition of ski halfpipe to the World Cup freestyle calendar to the staging of big air competitions in urban areas like London, England.
The innovation has spread into alpine as well, with Moscow once again hosting a parallel slalom event this past Saturday on an artificial hill constructed in the city centre. The second annual Audi FIS Alpine Ski Champions Cup took place under the lights with 30,000 fans on the ground, and more than 4,000 cubic metres of snow shipped in refrigerated containers from Siberia.
Despite some rain and softer conditions the athletes adjusted and put on a good show.
The format is similar to parallel snowboarding races with athletes racing beside each other for two runs, switching courses in between heats to even things up. The athletes with the lowest combined time move on to the next round until just two skiers remain to compete for the win.
If a skier goes off course or falls in either run they are assessed a time penalty of 1.5 seconds instead of being disqualified, giving them a chance to make up the difference in the next run.
Whistler's Mike Janyk, who knows something about skiing in wet conditions, was one of the skiers invited to the event and climbed the ladder to the semi-finals.
"I was up against Giorgio Rocca in the first round, so not an easy guy to beat," said Janyk. "He made a mistake in the first run which gave me a little bit of a breather for the second leg, but not too much. The second run was a solid run for me and I moved on, then again to the semi-finals."
He lost that duel but went on to beat reigning world champion Manfred Pranger of Austria in the small final to place third overall. Meanwhile Marcel Hirshcer of Austria edged Steve Missilier of France in the final to take the win.
"I had a great run against (Pranger) in the first leg so I managed a gap of about nine hundredths of a second. It's not that much but it really put the pressure on him... and he didn't time his start right and barged out of the gate.
"It all happened so fast, you'd do a run, take the elevator back up to the start and in a minute or two you'd start again. There was no time to think or strategize."
Janyk enjoyed the format and would like to see more events like it on the calendar.