Hirscher gives Austria a needed win at home
Austria needed that.
Having left Kitzbuehel without a win, Schladming's Night Slalom was the last chance for a home win before the World Cup finals. Marcel Hirscher delivered before an enthusiastic crowd of 50,000 with his sixth win of the season.
“With 50,000 honey bees behind you, you have to ski fast,” Hirscher said, no small amount of relief on his face.
The first man on course in the opening run, Hirscher excelled down the Planai track posting an enormous first run leading margin of three-quarters of a second inciting the crowd that lined up dozens deep the length of the hill to a flare lighting, horn blowing, flag waving frenzy.
Unless he were to make a mistake, no one had a realistic chance to overtake Hirscher following the first run. But he had failed to finish the last two slaloms - at Wengen and Kitzbuehel - and the heavy wet snow that was falling was doing him no favors. It was also warm, and the soft course was rutting, staying slick in some turns and producing slush in others.
It was a night made for heroics, but there were others with the same intent as he.
Notably among them was Japan's Noaki Yuasa with a fabulous second run that put the pressure on all that followed. He would finish fifth - the best Japanese Cup result in six seasons - just ahead of American Ted Ligety who had not done better in a slalom since 2008 on the same hill.
Ivica Kostelic never fully recovered from a cautious first run and settled in to the fourth slot while Italian Stefano Gross, with a career best finish and his second podium of the season, got sandwiched by Austrians with Hirscher winning and Mario Matt in third.
It was a difficult test for Hirscher. Embroiled in a controversy over ghost straddles in previous races, the 22 year old became media fodder. The course, one of the tougher on the tour in the best of conditions, was chopped up and exceptionally tricky as demonstrated by 19 DNF's and five disqualifications. When he completed the run and saw his huge first run margin had held up for a 0.22-second win, he rolled on his back in the finish and kicked his skis in the air.
“This means a lot for me especially after the hardest time in my sports career,” he said. “To have another victory. I live 20 minutes away from here, so I think you can imagine what it means.”
by Hank McKee
Men's World Cup Slalom, Schladming Austria, Jan. 24, 2012
1 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Gross, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
3 Matt, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
4 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
5 Yuasa, Hart/Dolomite/Look
6 Ligety, Head/Head/Head
7 Byggmark, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
8 Herbst, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
9 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9 Myhrer, Nordica/Atomic/Atomic
Men's World Cup Slalom, Schladming, Austria, Jan. 24, 2012. ... The Night Slalom. ... It is the 23rd race of the men's 45 (now 44) race 2012 World Cup schedule and the eighth of 11 scheduled slaloms. ... It is the 34th Cup race held at Schladming. ... the 18th slalom, all men's races. ... and the 17th night slalom. ... It is the fifth men's slalom to be held this January.
It is the ninth career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher. ... his fifth in slalom. ... It is his sixth win of the season and fourth in slalom. ... He had not finished better than 11th at Schladming previously. ... He has scored all of the Austrian men's wins this season.
It is a career best Cup result for Stefano Gross and his second podium, the other a third coming at Adelboden earlier this month also in slalom. ... It is his only scoring result at the site.
It is the 35th career World Cup podium placing for Mario Matt and his second in two consecutive races. ... He has scored in six slaloms this season, five of those top 10 results and four of them top four finishes. ... It is his fourth podium scored at Schladming having won the race in 2000 and 2008.
North Americans: It is the 13th career top six in slalom for Ted Ligety and his best slalom finish since matching the placing at Zagreb Jan. 6, 2011. ... It is his second best of seven scoring finishes at Schladming topped only by a fourth Jan.. 22, 2008. ... Brad Spence matches his ninth best career placing. ... and matches his third best finish of the season. ... It is his first score at Schladming. ... It is the seventh time Mike Janyk has scored at Schladming and it is his sixth score of the season all in slalom.
Standings: Ivica Kostelic (fourth in race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 905-825 over Hirscher. ... Beat Feuz (did not race) is third with 665pts. ... Ted Ligety in fourth overall with 578pts and Bode Miller (did not race) is sixth with 450pts. ... Erik Guay (did not race) leads the Canadians in 26th with 196pts. ... Kostelic leads the slalom standings 595-460 over Hirscher. ... Cristian Deville (DNF 1st) is third with 370pts. ... Nolan Kasper (32nd 1st) leads the US on the slalom list in 17th with 108pts... Janyk the Canadians in 19th with 102pts. ... Austria leads the men's Nations Cup 3808-2211 over the Swiss. ... Italy is third with 2047pts. ... The US is fifth with 1382pts and Canada 10th with 689pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|22||30||421400||MYHRE Lars Elton||1984||NOR||53.05||52.94||1:45.99||17.65|
|Disqualified 2nd run|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|66||60088||VAN DEN BOGAERT Jeroen||1979||BEL|
|Did not qualify 1st run|
|63||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|42||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|47||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|