ZAGREB, Croatia – Before the 2015 evening slalom race got underway at Sljeme, Austrian Marcel Hirscher already held the record for the most World Cup wins by a male at the venue – two. By the time darkness enveloped the finish area, he managed to claim his second slalom victory of the season and third Vip Snow Queen Trophy of his career by an impressive .81-second margin on a night that saw straddles and crashes galore in both runs.

Hirscher bounced back from his disappointing seventh-place finish in Madonna di Campiglio before the Christmas holiday with some changes to his setup which he believes made all the difference in the world and helped him separate himself from the pack on an icy slope where some struggled with grip.

“A win is always very important, but it is very important for myself. You know, after a very disappointing seventh place in Madonna di Campiglio … we have done a couple of training days,” said Hirscher. “I’ve tested different setups, so I want to thank all my coaches, all my technician guys and as well the ski areas where I’ve trained. They all did a really great job, and I’m now in front of all these lights but in general we won today.”

Hirscher may be royalty now in Zagreb, but his history at the mountain prior to this winning streak wasn’t quite so glamorous with one failure to qualify for a second run, two DNFs on the first run, and a 15th-place finish in 2011.

“Once here my (first) run – too slow. Once I skied out. But in the last three years I won, so it is really great,” he said with a smile.

Although showing slow splits in the first run, German Felix Neureuther miraculously made up time on the final pitch that seemed to thwart so many and contributed to the high attrition rate in the race. He sat third after first run but was unable to make up quite enough time in the second to catch Hirscher, ultimately finishing as runner-up. Still, he is the only male skier to stand on the podium in all four slalom races contested so far this season.

“Today I have to say, it was so tough to ski – really hard – my feeling was so bad, and I was still fast. Also a little bit lucky that Daver Chodounsky went out and that Mattias (Hargin) had a pretty big mistake at the end of the course here, but that’s ski racing,” Neureuther reasoned. “It doesn’t matter when your feeling is bad, you just have to keep on pushing and that’s what I did.”

From bib 26, Chodounsky skied a blistering first run and stunned the crowd when he crossed the finish line in third at .77 seconds off Hirscher’s pace and only .02 seconds behind Hargin.

“That came from deep down – I really wanted it. I know I’ve been skiing well, I just needed to show it in a race. … It gives me confidence, for sure, that I can put it in there like that,” Chodounsky said after first run, as he tried to honor the lives of his two teammates who perished in an avalanche just yesterday. “It was tough to find focus today. We’re definitely skiing with heavy hearts. Bryce and Ronnie were great guys, good friends in the gym and on the slopes, so it was really tough but we’re skiing for them today – not just me, the entire team is skiing for them.”

Unfortunately, Chodounsky lost his line through a combination in the second run and skied out after posting a fast first split. Teammate Ted Ligety faced a similar fate though lower down the course where he straddled the entry gate to a hairpin on the final pitch with the finish line in sight. No North Americans scored on the day.

When the Swede Hargin struggled on the final pitch in the second run like so many before him, it opened the door for Neureuther to move in.

“I thought it was going to be a little bit easier, a lot of speed, but some parts were turning a lot. So it got quite difficult in some parts. I was getting pretty tired in the legs actually down here,” Hargin confessed.

Hargin’s bobble also offered Norwegian Sebastian Foss Solevaag the chance to secure his first career World Cup podium on his very first trip to Zagreb. He skied the second fastest second run to move up from eighth, after starting 18th, into third overall.

What was the 23-year-old who just missed the podium earlier this season in Levi by finishing fourth thinking about as he pushed out of the start in the second run?

“Go for it. There’s no tomorrow, so I wanted to charge it all the way down and it worked pretty good,” he said. “People always said Zagreb is a good hill and course for me, so I had a little bit of expectations but this is my first time here so it’s nice to do that good in my first experience here.”

There was opportunity for back-of-the-pack starters on the icy hill, but only Croatian Filip Zubcic and Swiss Bernhard Niederberger were able to take full advantage, moving up from bibs 57 and 63 to finish 15th and 21st, respectively. Zubcic enjoyed being in the spotlight as the top Croatian after hometown hero Ivica Kostelic finished 18th.

See more photos from today’s race here.

 

The Scoop

By Hank McKee

  1. Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  2. Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
  3. Solevaag, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
  4. Hargin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  5. Khoroshilov, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  6. Baeck, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
  7. Gross, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
  8. Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/
  9. Grange, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  10. Yule, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer

Men’s World Cup slalom, Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 6, 2015:

  • It is a night race. … It is the 16th of 35 on the men’s 2015 World Cup schedule. … It is the fourth of ten originally scheduled men’s slaloms, of nine remaining after the cancellation of Munich’s city event. … It is the 17th race hosted by Zagreb, all of them slaloms. … The seventh for men. … Marcel Hirscher is the defending champion, though the race was moved to Bormio last season and won by Felix Neureuther.
  • It is the 28th career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher … his 15th in slalom. … It is his fifth win of the season in eight completed races … his second win of the season in slalom. … He has missed the podium only once this season. … He passes Benjamin Raich to become the top winning male slalom skier in Austrian World Cup history. … The winning margin is .81. … First eight finishers are within the same second top 13 within two seconds.
  • It is the 33rd career World Cup podium placing for Felix Neureuther. … It is the seventh time he has finished second to Marcel Hirscher. … It is his fourth podium of the season.
  • It is the first career World Cup podium for Sebastian-Foss Solevaag. … His previous best had been fourth in slalom at Levi earlier this season. … He has just nine scoring results.
  • No North Americans score points, but David Chodounsky was third after the first run.
  • Thirty-one skiers failed to legally complete the first run and eight more the second.
  • Hirscher takes the lead of the World Cup overall standings to 676-624 over Kjetil Jansrud (did not race). … Dominik Paris (did not race) sits third with 405pts. … Ted Ligety (DNF second) is eighth with 326pts. … the top Canadian is Manuel Osborne-Paradis in 21st with 153pts.
  • Neureuther leads the slalom standings 320-316 over Hirscher. … Fritz Dopfer (eighth in race) is third with 188pts. … Julien Cousineau leads North Americans on the slalom chart in 32nd with 15pts. … Chodounsky sits 34th with 14pts.
  • Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 2233-1354 over France. … Italy  is third with 1`325pts. … The US is seventh with 953pts and Canada ninth with 384pts.

 

Results 

 1  1  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  57.26  58.70  1:55.96  0.00
 2  6  201702 NEUREUTHER Felix 1984 GER  58.13  58.64  1:56.77  +0.81  5.03
 3  18  422082 SOLEVAAG Sebastian-Foss 1991 NOR  58.48  58.52  1:57.00  +1.04  6.46
 4  3  501111 HARGIN Mattias 1985 SWE  58.03  59.32  1:57.35  +1.39  8.63
 5  11  480736 KHOROSHILOV Alexander 1984 RUS  58.25  59.17  1:57.42  +1.46  9.07
 6  15  501223 BAECK Axel 1987 SWE  58.76  58.79  1:57.55  +1.59  9.87
 7  8  293797 GROSS Stefano 1986 ITA  58.45  59.18  1:57.63  +1.67  10.37
 8  4  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER  58.15  59.49  1:57.64  +1.68  10.43
 9  12  192665 GRANGE Jean-Baptiste 1984 FRA  58.80  59.17  1:57.97  +2.01  12.48
 10  24  511996 YULE Daniel 1993 SUI  58.57  59.63  1:58.20  +2.24  13.91
 11  13  501101 BYGGMARK Jens 1985 SWE  59.45  58.78  1:58.23  +2.27  14.09
 12  23  501116 LAHDENPERAE Anton 1985 SWE  59.51  59.10  1:58.61  +2.65  16.45
 13  35  193967 MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor 1989 FRA  1:00.31  58.49  1:58.80  +2.84  17.63
 14  10  500656 LARSSON Markus 1979 SWE  59.32  59.69  1:59.01  +3.05  18.94
 15  57  380335 ZUBCIC Filip 1993 CRO  59.60  59.46  1:59.06  +3.10  19.25
 16  17  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA  59.30  59.87  1:59.17  +3.21  19.93
 17  9  501017 MYHRER Andre 1983 SWE  1:00.46  58.91  1:59.37  +3.41  21.17
 18  20  380260 KOSTELIC Ivica 1979 CRO  59.66  1:00.45  2:00.11  +4.15  25.77
 19  37  50981 HOERL Wolfgang 1983 AUT  1:00.39  59.88  2:00.27  +4.31  26.76
 20  34  202451 STRASSER Linus 1992 GER  1:00.57  1:00.08  2:00.65  +4.69  29.12
 21  63  512014 NIEDERBERGER Bernhard 1993 SUI  59.97  1:01.17  2:01.14  +5.18  32.16
 22  30  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK  59.43  1:09.18  2:08.61  +12.65  78.54
Disqualified 2nd run
 27  192506 MISSILLIER Steve 1984 FRA
Disqualified 1st run
 14  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA
Did not start 1st run
 82  310426 VUKICEVIC Marko 1992 SRB
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 80  380363 KOLEGA Elias 1996 CRO
 75  54320 SCHWARZ Marco 1995 AUT
 73  380361 RODES Istok 1996 CRO
 71  51395 DIGRUBER Marc 1988 AUT
 70  180718 HENTTINEN Jens 1993 FIN
 69  380292 ZRNCIC-DIM Natko 1986 CRO
 68  194262 BUFFET Robin 1991 FRA
 66  511174 VOGEL Markus 1984 SUI
 62  532138 KASPER Nolan 1989 USA
 56  511908 SCHMIDIGER Reto 1992 SUI
 54  530837 KELLEY Tim 1986 USA
 49  194207 THEOLIER Steven 1990 FRA
 48  291145 DEVILLE Cristian 1981 ITA
 45  561148 SKUBE Matic 1988 SLO
 44  561117 KUERNER Miha 1987 SLO
 41  934502 ANKENY Michael 1991 USA
 39  511902 ZENHAEUSERN Ramon 1992 SUI
 38  220689 RYDING Dave 1986 GBR
 29  511983 AERNI Luca 1993 SUI
 28  301709 YUASA Naoki 1983 JPN
Did not finish 2nd run
 46  501458 LINDH Calle 1990 SWE
 31  421860 NORDBOTTEN Jonathan 1989 NOR
 26  534508 CHODOUNSKY David 1984 USA
 21  50625 RAICH Benjamin 1978 AUT
 16  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA
 7  290732 THALER Patrick 1978 ITA
 5  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR
Did not finish 1st run
 81  60253 MARCHANT Armand 1997 BEL
 79  710320 LAIKERT Igor 1991 BIH
 78  750088 RISTEVSKI Antonio 1989 MKD
 77  430633 JASICZEK Michal 1994 POL
 76  700868 FALAT Matej 1993 SVK
 74  6531063 GINNIS AJ 1994 USA
 72  150594 TREJBAL Filip 1985 CZE
 67  54170 MATT Michael 1993 AUT
 65  380334 VIDOVIC Matej 1993 CRO
 64  180567 RASANEN Joonas 1989 FIN
 61  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE
 60  511896 MURISIER Justin 1992 SUI
 59  103729 READ Erik 1991 CAN
 58  481327 TRIKHICHEV Pavel 1992 RUS
 55  380290 SAMSAL Dalibor 1985 HUN
 53  421849 JOHANSEN Truls 1989 NOR
 52  103676 BROWN Phil 1991 CAN
 51  103865 PHILP Trevor 1992 CAN
 50  291318 TONETTI Riccardo 1989 ITA
 47  421669 HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR
 43  201891 SCHMID Philipp 1986 GER
 42  421954 LYSDAHL Espen 1990 NOR
 40  102239 COUSINEAU Julien 1981 CAN
 36  6290183 RONCI Giordano 1992 ITA
 33  320266 JUNG Dong-hyun 1988 KOR
 32  530165 BRANDENBURG Will 1987 USA
 25  191459 LIZEROUX Julien 1979 FRA
 22  293098 RAZZOLI Giuliano 1984 ITA
 19  50605 HERBST Reinfried 1978 AUT
 2  50707 MATT Mario 1979 AUT

 

Article Tags: Alpine , Top Story

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C.J. Feehan
Former editor in chief
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As a USSA Level 300 alpine coach and official, Christine J. Feehan spent more than a decade training elite athletes at some of America's preeminent ski academies – Burke, Sugar Bowl, and Killington – prior to joining the staff at Ski Racing in 2011. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Skidmore College and currently resides in Vermont.
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