KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia- Andre Myhrer started with bib number one, was leading after the first run of the Slalom and went on to grab his first victory of the season. The Swedish Slalom skier, who was second three times this season and third at the City Event in Moscow, finally stood on the top step of the podium at the last race before the Finals in Schladming. With a time of 1 minute, 40.99 seconds, Myhrer skied 0.49 seconds faster than Cristian Deville. The Italian continued the amazing roll he was on all season and by defending his second place from the first run. Alexis Pinturault was the surprise of the second run and the day, landing a place on the podium after being 14th in the first run.
“This is just great- it feels amazing,” Myhrer said. “I was searching for this victory the whole season and I knew all the way that the feeling is there, but somehow I had to wait until now to step on top of the podium. I heard that I really need to push hard if I want to make it, so I just tried to ski as fast as I could up on top and than keep a good line in the lower section. It worked!”
Deville seems to be such in a good place this season and if his first podium in Beaver Creek came as a surprise, three podiums and a victory later he is becoming one of the regulars at the top of the Slalom leaderboards.
“It’s crazy…I cant’ believe how this season turned out,” Deville couldn't stop smiling. “Over the summer I had some problems, was struggling with injuries and when those things happen, your head sometimes plays mean tricks on you. Coming into the season I was not feeling so good. That first podium in America meant so much to me because of that too. Now again, after not finishing the last two races I just fought hard to make it to the finish line and that makes this podium feel even greater. The level of skiing is so high now that you don’t stand a chance if you go slow or try to pace yourself. Maybe a guy like Ligety... if you could have such an advantage as he had yeaterday… but in today’s case- no way. To make it on the podium it’s not enough to push hard every run, you have to want it every gate. I knew that the snow was not as good as in the first run, it’s like summer here, so I pushed the hardest I could, made some mistakes but still made it. I am going into the Finals in Schladming wanting more.”
Just saying that he went from 14th to third tells it all, but Pinturault had a dream weekend in Kranjska Gora. The French young star is going into the Finals with two podiums in the last two races, after his second place in Saturday’s Giant Slalom today he showed some impressive Slalom skills again.
“It’s a fantastic day for me, making such a huge jump forward was a bit surprising. I pushed hard in the second run, but I thought it would be good for a top ten. Maybe a top seven…but than standing there at the leaders board, seeing all those guys coming down after me, that was something I didn’t see coming. It’s a great way to go into the Finals, now after these two podiums here I am looking for a victory in Schladming- it will not be easy but I have a great feeling.”
Kostelic had the chance to secure this year’s Slalom title but failed to move forward in the second run. He finished 16th, his worst position all season long. Before this race, Kostelic never finished worse than 5th in Slalom.
After today’s race, Kostelic leads the Slalom ranks with 50 points more than Hirscher and 66 more than Myhrer- leaving everything open in the chase for the Slalom globe. With Hirscher out of the points today and Kostelic not at his best, it’s Beat Feuz who is headed to Schladming as the Overall leader. Feuz currently holds a 55-point lead ahead of Hirscher and has 186 points more than Kostelic. It’s all still at stake at the Finals.
At the moment Kostelic is planning on skipping the Dowhill races in Schladming and possibly starting his race week with the Super G on Thursday. He and his team will than decide on what to start and what to skip, related to the developments of the races and his helath status.
Hirscher’s predictions might not have come true, Kostelic didn’t secure his title today so that for sure gives Hirscher the chance to be on fire in front of his home crowd next week and take his chance of taking over the title form Kostelic.
“It’s pretty simple- I straddled,” Hirscher explained what happened to him in the first run. “This is also part of the game, you have to know it might happen in Slalom. Every globe is far, far away at the moment and Ivica with his age and racing experience will get that globe today. This season he was constantly the best skier in Slalom. I haven’t yet seen Ivica after the run, but we spoke this morning and I told him how impressed I was with his skiing, only weeks after his injury. If someone deserves the Slalom globe, it’s Ivica. The pressure for me is pretty high right now- in Austria nearly everybody is talking about those globes and for as hard as it is, it’s part of the job. It’s a national sport in Austria and today one of the globes might go to Croatia, but I still stand a good chance for the Overall and GS globes. I am not worried about the Finals, I won in Austria and I won all over the world.”
by Ana Jelusic