Hirscher wins his 20th Slalom - Ryding writes GBR's history
Another amazing day concluded the Hahnenkamm race week in Kitzbuehel, with a thrilling slalom on the Ganslern course. Marcel Hirscher earned his 20th slalom win ahead of Great Britain’s Dave Ryding and Russia’s Alexander Khoroshilov.
The challenging course saw a bunch of top athletes putting an early end to their chase for podium placements, as for example Henrik Kristoffersen, Manfred Moelgg, André Myhrer didn’t make it to the finish line. The door was now wide open for the other athletes, and Great Britain’s Dave Ryding created the surprise by setting the fastest time of first run.
Only 9th in the first leg, +1.02 seconds off the pace, Austira’s Marcel Hirscher knew he had to push the limits in the second run. Especially as it was clear that Kristoffersen wouldn’t score points on that day. So he risked it all and laid down the best performance in every single section of the course, to finally claim his 20th slalom win in career and a second “Goldene Gams” after his win in 2013 in Kitzbuehel.
"You know, after the first run, that was for sure not what I was looking for. So often in this season so far, the first runs are not my best ones, maybe too much thinking of making points (for the overall). I don't know. Between the runs, I was thinking about what I can do to be faster in the second run. At the end, it was the complete trust in myself to take the risk. Before second run, we discussed it; take the risk, it doesn't matter if I ski out or not. It is racing and not a tactical game."
By topping the first run, Dave Ryding proved that he is ready for his first career podium and close to write history for Great Britain, as no British skier has ever won a World Cup race and the last podium goes back to 1981. He was able to stay focused and to repeat a fantastic performance in the second run, claiming his best career result (previously a 6th place in Levi at the beginning of the season).
"I never even dreamed it. It's so far beyond my dream that it's just like, 'Is this really happening? Am I really doing this in Kitzbuehel, of all places?' It's incredible, I'm speechless. Crossing the line, I couldn't believe it; it was just so cool that it really happened. Coming down into second felt like a win. I had two runs where I really did exactly what I wanted. I just hope it inspires a whole generation now and we can take from this, like, it's been so long since a Brit was in the top ten -- never mind a podium. All the Brits out there, it's time to go and we can do it."
The third place goes to Russia’s Alexander Khoroshilov, who earns his second podium this season (after his 3rd place in Val d’Isère) and his eight podium in career. So far, the Schladming winner of 2015 had never been on the podium on the Kitzbueheler Ganslernhang and his particularly happy to finally achieve this feat this year.
"I've had some injuries before, but now I am in good shape. I am really happy to be on the podium every time and it's amazing, especially in Kitzbuehel. It's a quite difficult slope and also, you need some experience to ski fast here. I think it's almost impossible to beat Marcel, he is really fast. Every time second run he is pushing like hell. I tried also, but I made some mistakes on the top, so it was not easy to catch him. Congrats to him and especially Dave also."
There will not be much time to rest for the men’s World Cup Tour, as the next race is scheduled on Tuesday in Schladming, where the Night Race will celebrate his 20th anniversary.