Welcome to Gravity, our weekly programme dedicated to downhill skiing. In this edition we start with Marcel Hirscher’s double in the Swedish resort of Are. On Friday the Austrian won the first giant slalom held under floodlights for the first time. Then on Sunday he won the slalom.
His victory in the slalom was the Austrian’s 26th World Cup win and he left Sweden not just with a double but with a handful of Austrian records.
The win put him on a par with downhill great Franz Klammer. It was his 14th success in slalom so he is now level with Benjamin Raich and Mario Matt, the most successful specialists up to now.
And to top his double he was able to dislodge Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud at the top of the overall standings on 440 points.
“I am super happy, it’s like Christmas right now,” he told reporters.
German Felix Neureuther was second on Sunday. But while Hirscher’s win in the Giant Slalom on Saturday was overwhelming his best friend and close rival ran him close in the slalom. The margin separating the two was just 0.10 seconds.
But the surprise in the slalom was a third place for Russia’s Alexander Khoroshilov. You could call him a “journeyman” skier this was his first podium finish in his many years on the circuit and he came in just 0.05 seconds behind the German.
Tina Maze complained of the effects of jet lag when she arrived in Sweden after the tour of North America, yet she failed to follow in the skiis of Marcel Hirscher with a double by just 6/100ths of a second.
Perhaps the tiredness excuse was just a bit of mind games from the Slovenian who sits atop the overall World Cup standings in what would appear to be an unassailable lead.
Next weekend the women will be in Val d’Isere to compete in a downhill and super-G.
The men head to Italy for one of the most anticipated giant slaloms of the season, the Alta Badia.
Franck Piccard knows the “Gran Risa” well and finished in the top ten several times.
‘You have to be perfectly positioned, always well balanced and in tune with the rhythm of the course, if not you will fall.
‘And so it has always attracted everyone. The corners are tight, the track is not very wide, it leaps from one gate to the other. And that’s something which is quite interesting because you have to be technically well-positioned on the skis to be successful in this giant.,” he told euronews.
Let’s go back to February 22 2002. Janica Kostelic is about to start her second run in the Giant Slalom in Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
She will go on to win a record three golds. But the chance of a fourth eludes her in the giant as she finishes just 5 hundredths of second behind Daniella Ceccarelli.
The Croatian went on to win three titles at the World Championships in the Italian resort of Bormio in 2005 but at the age of just 24 she was forced to retire after multiple knee operations.
Her elder brother Ivica Kostelic continues to represent the family in the World Cup.