Christof Innerhofer, one year later …
Most of the world's best speed specialists taking part in the World Cup stage at Sochi keep having a hard time handling the treacherous Rosa Khutor Olympic course, many of them missing gates in the upper part of the Russian run set by FIS Race Director Helmut Schmalzl. Led by Austria’s Hannes Reichelt, Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, France's Johann Clarey or USA’s Bode Miller, each in that group missed one or two gates in the technically demanding ‘super-G’ icy upper section, making it difficult to figure out who is really able to correctly tame that beautiful hill two days prior to Saturday’s race.
Several of the remaining established downhill speedsters as Erik Guay, Aksel Lund Svindal, Didier Cuche or Klaus Kroell came in further back – Jan Hudec and Beat Feuz finishing a distant 19th and 22nd with huge gaps on Reichelt. Only 36 skiers were able to conclude their run prior to the interruption and the cancellation of the second timed trial because of snow showers and bad visibility.
Innerhofer, 3rd at Wengen last month, is struggling too despite his excellent technical skills which usually allow him to shine in all specialties. Yet the champion from Gais, in the German speaking part of Italy, told the press he was inspired by the demanding Rosa Khutor run and that he feels able to excel again this weekend in both the downhill and the super combined events.
Good memories for Innerhofer
“I’m in good shape apparently. I have basically no problem to handle the final section but I’m still struggling in the upper part,” he said after his run. “February has often been a good month for me – a year ago exactly on this day I clinched gold in super-G at the World Championships at Garmisch-Partenkichen and then I won the super combined at Bansko. These are for sure good memories which are important for my moral and confidence,” Innerhofer added.
So far, the 27-year-old has not been enjoying the season he had hoped for at the end of last fall after returning from a series of successful summer training camps. He suffered a bad crash while training super-G in Austria early November and needed much more time than expected to refind his momentum last month. “It has not been easy, I had a hard time to fully concentrate onn my runs and I needed the help from a psychologist to recover my confidence and my determination – just in time to get back on the podium at Wengen,” he also explained.
This crash and the slight concussion which affected him afterwards seemed to have cooled down the fancy Italian greatly appreciated by the media for his jokes cracked in various languages and his great sense of humor. “I went through tough moments this season but I strongly believe in my chances to get back on top, maybe this year, maybe later on. I have to be patient and wait for the right moment,” he commented.
The handsome triple medalist from Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been extremely busy after the end of last season attending parties and events organized in his honor in Italy – including some stylish fashion presentations he made for Armani. After a while, he was so fed up by travel around the country that he decided to anticipate by one week the journey to Argentina in order to relax while skiing in Ushuaia with the Italian tech team.
“It was crazy but this kind of situation only occurs once or twice in life and I wanted to fully enjoy it for while. I did it as long as it was fun then I stopped it when it started to bother me,” added the Italian who also had the pleasure to move into his newly-built house last spring.
On Friday, Christof may only ski the upper part of the course with the hope of finally finding the right line – and skip the rest to save some energy for Saturday. “I hope the weather will be fine, it would be even more difficult with bad visibility.”