Neureuther clinches first season victory
BORMIO, Italy – There was only 0.01 hundredth of a second separating Marcel Hirscher (AUT) and Felix Neureuther (GER) as they stood in the starting gate as the last two skiers in the second run. After a fantastic run, where he found the right balance between attacking and making no mistakes, Neureuther beat Hirscher and clenched his first victory of the season. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) made the home crowd go wild as he moved up from sixth place into third, rounding out the podium.
The big surprise of the day came from Japan’s favorite, Naoki Yuasa who clocked the fastest time of the second run and moved up 22 places, going from 26th into just off the podium in fourth.
“It wasn’t an easy end of the year, I was dealing with lots of injuries so I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start this new 2014,” an extremely happy Neureuther said.
“I knew I really needed to attack in the second run, I have been in this situation before – Marcel and I would be very close after the first run and than he would just put the hammer down so now it was my turn to do the same. It’s a great boost of confidence for the upcoming slalom races this month,” he continued.
Hirscher came third in his only previous World Cup slalom race in Bormio as a 19-year-old in March 2008. It was his second career World Cup podium and today, almost five years later was happy to keep the podiums coming.
“A second place is still a really good result, in the second run I think I still skied well but I made a few small mistakes and this is a hill that doesn’t tolerate any. Felix had an awesome run, I saw him ski the first pitch and his run was perfect.”
“It was tough for the Bormio crew to prepare the slope and I want to thank them. It was raining cats and dogs the day before the race and we all thought we would ski in soft conditions, but even though it was not perfect, conditions were still really, really good.”
After Patrick Thaler’s fantastic third-place in Val d’Isere, Italy celebrated a second slalom podium. It has been almost a full year since his podium in Adelboden and Moelgg couldn’t have picked a better venue for repeating the feat.
He has very fond memories of Bormio as six years ago he won the slalom title in front of the home crowd, a memory that is very vivid so many years later.
“Bormio is a beautiful place, it’s a lucky place for me too. I started my career here somehow, winning that title on this snow and now starting the New Year with a podium… I like it here,” Moelgg exclaimed.
“Something changed in my mind a few weeks back, I started skiing more aggressively and I tried this new approach in training. Knowing I could do it helped a lot as I felt I was going in the right direction in the first but especially in the second run. I have been feeling well since Soelden, have trained well and I can’t wait for the rest of the January slaloms, there are a lot of steep slopes, which I am looking forward to. First of them Adelboden, I aim at replicating last year,” he continued.
Moelgg is definitely not the only one with his mind already in Adelboden, Hirscher loves the Swiss race and knows the terrain suits him really well, after all he has a track record of three victories and two second places at the venue.
“Adelboden is an amazing race, a true classic. There are so many viewers, I have always done well there, apart from my big mistake last year but I look forward to next weekend and racing a very cool slalom and giant slalom.
There is not much time to rest, as Adelboden is just five days away so don’t forget to tune in next Saturday for one of the most spectacular races on the Tour.