First double win at Adelboden for Richard and Svindal
The next to last giant slalom prior the Alpine World Championships ended with a surprising double win for France’s Cyprien Richard and Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal who shared victory at the end of that prestigious giant slalom race at Adelboden, in Switzerland. It’s the first time ever that two skiers were tied for first place in that specialty in a men’s World Cup giant slalom.
Another Frenchman, Thomas Fanara, reached the podium in 3rd place with a delay of 20/100 of a second on the winners. He finished 2/100 ahead of Austria’s Benjamin Raich and 4/100 in front of Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic. The leader in the first run, USA’s ted Ligety, made a big mistake in the middle part of his second run on route to a probable fourth consecutive win this season. He lost much time touching the snow with his lower back and finished a distant 28tha second ahead of Daniel Albrecht, who scored a few points for the second time this season.
Switzerland’s Carlo Janka, 2nd in the opening leg, also failed to find his best rhythm in the afternoon and ended at a disappointing 13th place after a rough second run.
It was a good day for both Svindal and Kostelic in the race for the big crystal globe as they moved up to 1st and 3rd place prior Sunday’s slalom. The Scandinavian leads now the overall standings with 435 points, 26 more than Michael Walchhofer and 31 more than the Croat. Yet Silvan Zurbriggen 4th with 395 points could also take advantage of the next slalom to pass that group.
Ted Ligety was very disappointed after the race yet he still leads the giant slalom standings with 303 points, 28 more than Svindal while Richard is 3rd with 242 points.
The better course conditions – harder snow and better visibility because of the stronger sunshine – definitely influenced the issue of this exciting event, helping earlier starters in the second run to take more risks on the demanding ‘Chuenigsbaergli’ course surrounded once more by nearly thirty thousands enthusiast spectators.
Yet athletes like Ivica Kostelic or Cyprien Richard are both excellent technical skiers and they did a great job making the best out of these more favourable conditions. Richard, 2nd in the last giant slalom race at Alta Badia after having led the first run, would have finished the opening leg among the top-10 without the huge mistake he did at the top of the final pitch where Ligety almost crashed in the morning run.
He was in 6th place at the second intermediate time before making that error. “I was not so pleased by my performance this morning yet I knew that I still had a strong chance for a good result in the afternoon with a better run. “I remembered from past years that it was possible to improve your final position with a great second run because the favorites are skiing in more difficult conditions than the first starters because of the dark light,” he explained afterwards. “I was very motivated and also very confident so I managed to achieve a very aggressive run. I could attack the way I wanted while the last skiers on course struggled a little because of the bad light.”
“I’m really proud to get my first victory on this legendary slope and to share the victory with such a great champion as Aksel. I feel ready for much more now, our team is really strong now and we have no complex at all.”
The soon 32-year-old skier from Morzine, who was supported by a strong group of supporters from his hometown standing along the course and at the finish area, is the first Frenchman to excel in this traditional event. The last French winner in Adelboden was Patrick Russel in 1971 – four years after skiing legend Jean Claude Killy and two years after his teammate Jean Noel Augert, the 1970 slalom World Champion.
Svindal on his side is the first Norwegian since Ole Kristian Furuseth in 1991 to win the race here. The 2007 giant slalom World Champion at Are, in Sweden, was as happy as surprised by his strong performance and his first win this season. “I didn’t really expect this a few days ago as I have been suffering a bad flue which obliged me to stay in my room,” he said with a huge grin afterwards.
“The people here have done a great job preparing that course so well despite the difficult weather conditions. I wish to congratulate them a lot. It’s really exciting to win such a big race, I skied well in the second run and didn’t make any major mistake. I have been feeling strong in giant slalom since the season start and it’s nice to have been able to confirm it today. I hope now to be able to fully recover my form prior the next important races at Wengen.”
In Sunday’s slalom, another big battle between the top specialists is expected – and one of them, Ivica Kostelic, seems pretty strong in this early part of the month.
Contributed by PkL