Blardone is back!
ALTA BADIA, Italy – What a day for Massimiliano Balardone, winning the Alta Badia Giant Slalom race for the third time in his career.
Coming into the second run, Blardone was sixth but no one from the skiers coming after him were able to match his time, and he made his way to the top of the podium in the Sunday’s race.
With a time of 2 minutes, 46.69 seconds, Blardone was 0.35 seconds faster than Hannes Reichelt in second and .57 seconds faster then third ranked Philipp Schoerghofer.
In an amazing race where things got turned upside down in the second run, the crowds once again were able to watch their own skier standing on the top step of the podium. With a second, third place and fifth place (Marcel Hirscher), it was a great days for the Austrians as well.
Ted Ligety, today’s favorite and leader after the first run, had to “settle” for a fourth place. After winning two and getting second behind Hirscher in the three races disputed so far this season, Ligety was left off the podium by just .01 seconds.
While waiting for the last five skiers to come down, Blardone was extremely nervous, his last victory being the 2009 one in Alta Badia he knew he could perform really well on this slope, but the 1.11 seconds between him and Ligety from the first run seemed too be too much time to allow him to hope for a victory.
But the tars in Blardone’s eyes might have had an even deeper meaning for the Italian champion. He was so excited and overwhelmed by today’s victory that might have not said a lot, but what he said explained the tears in his eyes when he realized he was the fastest man of the day.
“Three victories and one baby in April. For me this is such a beautiful day,” Blardone shared the big news.
“This was one difficult season, and in the first run I already thought that my sixth position was a good one, but with the second best time of the second run, this is just beautiful.”
He was already on the podium in Lake Louise, a third place in the Downhill came unexpectedly for the SG specialist, with today’s GS podium it seems that Hannes Reichelt might soon become one of the guys to watch for in the Overall.
“I’m happy about getting on the podium in different disciplines,” Reichelt said. “Normally I think about a podium in SG and somehow this year that’s the only discipline I have yet to stand on it. It was a great day for me. Now I became an all-round guy and I hope to get a SG podium soon. I was so angry after the SG (28th place) in Val Gardena, I had so many mistakes. In GS and Downhill I’m in a really good shape, so I can go into Christmas peacefully.”
It might still be a long shot but with his current 5th place in the Overall standings, 116 points behind Aksel Lund Svindal, and great shape in three disciplines makes him one of those skiers who might be this year’s revelation.
“At the moment I don’t think about it. For the Overall you really have to win a lot of races. Svindal is in a really good shape, so is Beat Feuz. I first have to start winning races and than I can start thinking about that.”
Philipp Schoerghofer started the season with a third place finish in Soelden and got a top ten in both Beaver Creek GS races. In Alta Badia he gained one place and after being fourth in the first run and went on to round the podium in third place once again.
“I’m very happy to be on the podium here in Alta Badia. It was one of my goals for this year and I was not very happy after my first run. I had a feeling I might end up seventh or eight, this third place makes me very happy. It’s great to end a year with such a good result.”
It was a beautiful day in Alta Badia, and somehow it always a special thing to see a skier win in front of his own crowd. Today Max, as everyone on the Tour knows him, had the support of a big Fan Club which kept the celebration going late after the race was over.
Tomorrow the show goes on with the Slalom race, stay tuned for more exciting news.
Full results can be found here.
Watch the video interviews of the winners here.
Race highlights can be found here.
by Ana Jelusic