The first run did the damage. The second changed everything.
Sweden hadn’t won a men’s World Cup title since Tomas Fogdoe got the slalom globe in 1993, 19 years ago. And few dared prognosticate one for them this season as the final day (March 18) of the 2012 World Cup season dawned at Schladming, Austria. Yet, at the end, there was Andre Myhrer taking the slalom title with a dramatic win while the two standings leaders, Marcel Hirscher and Ivica Kostelic fought with the tough conditions in bright sun and 50 degree temperatures.
Ruts were forming with the first skier and deepened with each subsequent passing, making the Schladming course a punishing playing field. First run DNF’s included some of the biggest names of the current era with Olympic champ Giuliano Razzoli, former World Cup champ Jean-Baptiste Grange and the dazzling Alexis Pinturault all exiting. Biggest of them all, and the man most of the 35,000 plus had come to see, was Marcel Hirscher a straddle victim a bit above the halfway mark. He would still collected the overall title.
Slalom standings leader Ivica Kostelic also straddled, and fell. But with a solid point lead he got to his feet, hiked and finished the first run in 19th, and last place, an ugly 18.92 seconds off the pace set by German leg winner Felix Neureuther.
Myhrer, the lone man left capable of overtaking Kostelic for the slalom crown sat second after the first run suddenly finding himself in a strong position. He would need nerve, but his confidence was high having been second (Bansko) and first (Kranjska Gora) in the previous two Cup slaloms.
Due to the flip 30 format, Kostelic opened the second run, putting down a good run. His first run deficit, however, made his time in the leader box short.
Nolan Kasper, himself a first run hiker, took the lead immediately and Mike Janyk, with what would become the second fastest run of the heat, snagged it away again. Mattias Hargin took the lead; and then Steve Missillier and then Fritz Dopfer all pushing Kostelic closer to 15th place, the last position at Finals where points are awarded.
Mario Matt was the third man left at the start, punching in a great run, riding the ruts to the delight of the vibrant crowd for the lead.
But then came Myhrer. Despite ruts as deep as the Oregon Trail, the Swede accelerated down the chewed up track while Kostelic watched pensively from the finish. Myhrer picked up time on the steep, he picked up more on the flat and he claimed the win when Neureuther could not match him. Myhrer had not just won, he recorded the fastest second run time for the mostly unlikely capture of a World Cup title this season.
He celebrate in the finish with a dual tribute to retiring racers: a ski flip for Didier Cuche and a penguin belly slide for Anja Paerson.
“I knew I stood a chance, but it was so small that I decided to just stay focused on my skiing and do my part,” Myhrer said. “I was trying not to get affected by what the other guys were doing. … especially between runs after things developed as they did I tried not to think at all because of course I would have gotten nervous.”
Hirscher had displayed no sign of the tension building over the past month, but with the overall title and the GS crown in his bag, he said he was just glad to able to breathe again. “I gave it a try,” he said. “I straddled. But I am glad I can now get soome air. The shoulders are 50 to 100 pounds lighter.”
Janyk held on for tenth, Ted Ligety was 11th and Kasper 15th, playing their role in bumping Kostelic to 16th. Myhrer won the crown by 34pts.
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup slalom, Schladming, Austria, March 18, 2012
1 Myhrer, Nordica/Nordica/
2 Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/
3 Matt, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
4 Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/
5 Missillier, Dynastar/Lange/Look
6 Hargin, Nordica/Nordica/
7 Gross, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
8 Byggmark, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
8 Valencic, Elan//Elan
10 Janyk, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
Men’s World Cup slalom, Schladming, Austria, March 18, 2012. … It is the 44th and final race of the men’s 45 race schedule with one cancellation (Munich city event), the 11th of 11 slaloms. … It is the 20th World Cup slalom held at Schladming.
It is the fourth career World Cup victory for Andre Myhrer all in slalom. … and his second in seven days having also won at Kranjska Gora March 11. … It is his second win and sixth podium of the season, five in slalom and one in the parallel city event at Moscow where he finished third.
It is the 14th career World Cup podium result for Felix Neureuther. … the 12th in slalom. … It is his fourth podium, three in slalom and a second place finish at Moscow.
It is the 36th career World Cup podium result for Mario Matt. … the 34th in slalom. … It is his fifth podium result claimed at Schladming. … It is his third podium of the season and second of the season at Schladming having also placed third Jan. 24.
North Americans: It is the 27th career World Cup top 10 for Mike Janyk. … all in slalom. … It is his second best result of the season after a seventh at Adelboden Jan. 8. … It is the 25th best career Cup slalom result for Ted Ligety and the only time he has finished 11th in the discipline. … Nolan Kasper matches his ninth best Cup result.
Final Standings: Marcel Hirscher (DNF 1st) wins the 2012 World Cup overall title 1355-1330 over Beat Feuz (did not race). … Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) is third overall with 1131pts. … Ligety finishes ninth with 853pts. … Jan Hudec (did not race) tops Canada in 16th with 548pts. It is Hirscher’s first overall title. … Myhrer wins the slalom title 644-610 over Kostelic (16th in race). … Hirscher finishes third with 560pts. … Ligety is top US skier in 15th with 193pts and Janyk top Canadian in 21st with 140pts. … It is Myhrer’s first World Cup title. … Austria wins the men’s Nations Cup 7767-4471 over Switzerland. … Italy is third with 3861pts. … The US finishes sixth with 2219 and Canada eighth with 1727pts.
FIS World Cup
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|