Hirscher takes Cup lead by winning Zagreb slalomTweet
Marcel Hirscher sounded like a man who just finished a hard day’s night. He survived the slalom course on the Sljeme mountain on the outskirts of Zagreb Croatia to claim 42,000 euros in the richest event on the World Cup.
With horns blasting and flags waving among a crowd that overflowed the stadium and stacked a dozen deep along the sides of course, Hirscher said he struggled to overcome the race of Felix Neureuther, the number two finisher. Getting his fourth podium in four men’s races on the Crveni Spust track was heavily supported Ivica Kostelic, finishing third with a crescendo of noise and appreciative applause.
Hirscher moved back into the lead of the World Cup overall standings with the win, moving by the absent Aksel Lund Svindal 525-456. Kostelic maintained his lead in the slalom standings over Hirscher 305-260.
“The last starts were so bad for me,” said Hirscher, reflecting on a series of DNF’s in previous races at Zagreb. “I cannot imagine what happened tonight. It was so hard to ski…. I thought Felix was unbreakable. I am lucky to be in first position.”
Difficult to ski it was. The finish pitch at Zagreb is steep, and it was soft. Though a touch colder than the first run, it was still above freezing and the snow was wet. It cut under the pressure of the world’s best slalom skiers and definitely favored those who started early, not last as Hirscher did in the second run. The set called for round turns, funneling into a flush just before the finish line. The ruts that formed caused many errors over the evening run.
Cristian Deville nearly straddled the opening gate then skied beautifully through the bottom of the course but could get no closer than fourth. Andre Myhrer, second after the first run, had a huge mistake that launched him into the soft snow outside the ruts. He was lucky to recover from the error on the top third of the track and it kept him from having any chance of winning. He drifted to fifth place on the day.
Neureuther powered through the ruts, using them to advantage, fighting at every turn to claim second and Hirscher followed suit, skiing smart with just enough attack to bring home the win, his third of the season. Only a brilliant recovery in the final flush saved his effort from catastrophe.
The Americans, with four in the final heat, struggled. Will Brandenburg straddled about a third of the way down the course when the damp snow directed his ski a little too sharply. Jimmy Cochran skied well before getting caught up just before the finish and crashed, sliding on his belly down the finish pitch. Nolan Kasper skied to survive, with little urgency and dropped back to finish 25th. Ted Ligety had been the only skier with two digits on his bib to break into the top six of the first run, and took risks at every given opportunity in the second. The small errors compounded as he fought down the hill, winding up tied with Canadian Michael Janyk in 14th place exactly three seconds off Hirscher’s two-run time.
The fans, estimated at 18,000 in number, got plenty of entertainment, despite Kostelic not collecting the win. “I have to say I am really proud,” said Kostelic. “Some races came to me after the first run and told me we had the best atmosphere in the World Cup. The crowd cheers for every single racer. I’m proud that Zagreb, my hometown, puts up this show.”
Hirscher photo by Gepa
by Hank McKee
Men’s World Cup night slalom, Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 5, 2012
1 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
2 Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/
3 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 Deville, Volkl/Fischer/Marker
5 Myhrer, Nordica/Nordica/
6 Missillier, Dynastar/Lange/Look
7 Hargin, Nordica/Nordica/
8 Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Byggmark, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
10 Gross, Voelkl//Marker
Men’s World Cup night slalom, Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 5, 2012. … It is the 14th race of the men’s 45 race World Cup schedule with one cancellation. … It is the fourth of 11 scheduled slaloms and the second to be held where and when originally scheduled. … It is the 13th World Cup race hosted by Zagreb (all slaloms) and the fourth men’s race.
It is the sixth career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher. … his third of the season. … His six wins are split evenly between GS and slalom. … It is his fifth podium result of the season.
It is the 12th Cup podium result for Felix Neureuther. … 11th in slalom. … It is his second podium of the season plus a fourth at Flachau just before Christmas.
It is the 46th career Cup podium result for Ivica Kostelic. … his third of the season and first that is not a win. … It is his fourth podium in four races at Zagreb.
Michael Janyk matched his 31st best of 49 scoring results. … It is his best of two results this season. … It is the third best of three slalom results for Ted Ligety this season. … his eighth score of the season. …
It is the 13th scoring result for Brad Spence. … hid third of the season. … It is the seven best of nine career scoring results for Nolan Kasper.
Hirscher reclaims the lead of the World Cup overall standings 525-456 over Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race). … Ligety (14th in race) sits third overall with 403pts. … Erik Guay (did not race) is the top Canadian in 21st with 140pts. … Kostelic maintains the lead of the slalom standings 305-260 over Hirscher. … Cristian Deville is third with 230pts. … Ligety is the top American in 14th with 64pts. … Julien Cousineau and Michael Janyk are tied as top Canadians in 27th place with 30pts each. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 2220-1441 over Switzerland. … Italy is third at 1161. … The US is fifth with 974pts and Canada ninth with 470pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|16||36||421400||MYHRE Lars Elton||1984||NOR||58.64||56.28||1:54.92||16.80|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify 1st run|
|74||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|55||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|51||193967||MUFFAT JEANDET Victor||1989||FRA|
|50||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|