Sunday surprise: Stefano Gross takes a very close slalom victory

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By Sarah Taylor
Sunday surprise: Stefano Gross takes a very close slalom victory

Welcome to Gravity, our weekly programme dedicated to the world of alpine skiing.

You can imagine what state the skiers are in when they reach the bottom! It's like an apocalypse - everything goes black.

We were in for a surprise on Sunday (January 11) at the Adelboden slalom, with Stefano Gross taking his first World Cup victory. The Italian beat Fritz Dopfer and Marcel Hirscher, but it was a close race.

Over the line

The number 13 bib might be unlucky for some, but not for Stefano Gross, it would seem.

The Italian missed the podium by five hundredths of a second at the Sochi Winter Olympics. But in difficult weather conditions in Sunday’s slalom, these hundredths were on his side.

He finished fourth in the first run, but a mistake by Dopfer created an opening for Gross. The 28-year-old went on to record the fastest overall time of one minute, 56.70 seconds.

Just three hundredths of a second separated the top three skiers.

Fritz Dopfer came in second, just two hundredths of a second behind Gross.

The German’s mistake in the second run cost him dearly. Struggling at the bottom of the 68-gate course, he watched his advantage slip away.

Finishing one hundredth of a second behind Dopfer, Austrian Marcel Hirscher took the third podium spot.

His time saw him overtake Felix Neureuther – who didn’t compete – in the slalom standings.

Hirscher’s 60 race points move him further ahead on the World Cup leaderboard.

Analyse this

Marcel Hirscher and his rivals will remain in Switzerland over the coming days. They will be based just next to Adelboden, at the Wengen ski station.

On the programme: the combined, slalom and downhill on the legendary Lauberhorn piste. It is a slope that evokes nothing but fond memories for former Olympic champion Franck Piccard.

Franck Piccard

“It’s probably the piste I liked the most because it’s remained largely unchanged since the 1920s and 30s, when our predecessors skied there.

“Despite the passage of time, the course has remained almost the same: the bridge, the tunnel, the dog’s head…

“Usually, it takes between two minutes fifteen and two minutes thirty to ski down.

“When you get to one minute thirty or two minutes the fatigue really starts to kick in. You can imagine what state the skiers are in when they reach the bottom! It’s like an apocalypse – everything goes black.

“It’s a course with a whole range of perspectives: you go round the mountain, sometimes in line with the north slope, at other times the southern slope; then there’s the acceleration; the braking; the high speeds; the change in speed… There are also parts where it is very, very wide, where you can really leave your mark on the snow, and other places where you have to ski within a 30-centimetre area!”

Skiing past

On March 2, 2013, in the heart of Bavaria,Tina Maze wiped the floor with Herman Maier’s record.

In 2000, the celebrated Austrian earned 2000 points in the World Cup. Thirteen years later, on the slopes of Garmisch Partenkirchen, the Slovenian smashed this symbolic score.

Maze became more and more ambitious, continuing to put in stellar performances until the end of the season. She finished with wins in five disciplines. In addition, she mounted the podium 24 times, scoring 2,414 points and breaking record after record.