Kostelic nabs slalom victory in Wengen, second of weekend
WENGEN, Switzerland—Ivica Kostelic loves Wengen and Wengen loves him. He secured his second victory of the weekend here with a time of 1 minute, 45.67 seconds in the slalom to best Sweden's Andre Myhrer finishing second by 0.85 and Germany's Fritz Dopfer, rounding out the podium, by 0.88 seconds.
After the first run, Kostelic was behind the leader Mario Matt by a slight 0.03 seconds, and wanted to make up some time in the second run. He decidedly saved his energy early on to charge hard at the end—something he admittedly didn't do last week at Adelboden where he got second in the slalom. Kostelic said last week he played it conservatively on that slope, due to his history of mistakes there.
Not this week.
“These last few gates are very important here,” he said. “For the second run, I made the tactic to attack the last part... because the race is not over until the last few gates. There is a lot of time to be made on that final section.”
However, Hirscher's early exit only helped the 2011 Overall World Cup Champion. In run No. 1, Hirscher put down a blazing fast time, 0.77 seconds ahead of the leader, Mario Matt. But then moments later, he was disqualified for missing a gate high on the course.
“I felt something but I couldn't feel exactly what happened,” Hirscher said.
Clearly he looked disappointed having been the favorite to win this race—with three consecutive victories, and five total this season—but said disqualifications occur in ski racing, especially in the fast-paced slalom event.
“It happens, what can I say?” he said. “I skied an awesome run. You can see that I was really really fast. I will have to cancel this race out of my mind.”
Even though Hirscher was out, Kostelic said there is something about Wengen that is magical for him. He had the advantage here anyway. This was Kostelic's second victory of the weekend, winning the super combined on Friday. It is also his third consecutive slalom win in Wengen in so many years. Only the great Ingemar Stenmark had ever achieved that prior to Kostelic.
“I don't know what to say,” he said, at loss for words after the race. “So many good memories from this hill. I guess I have something with this mountain and no other.”
He said someone had told him today that only Stenmark—one of the greatest slalom and giant slalom skiers of all time—had ever won at Wengen three consecutive years in a row.
“For me to be in the same category of Ingemar Stenmark, it's the biggest honor,” he said. “Unlike many other racers or people, I really follow the history of skiing very much and I have a lot of respect for the generations that are gone now. They are legends for me. Our sport gave some great names.”
Mario Matt and Cristian Deville—1 and 2, respectively—after the first run couldn't keep pace with the speedy second runs of Kostelic, Myhrer, and Dopfer who said they were able to ski consistently down this challenging course.
“It's pretty tough cause there are many bumps [today]—it's just really hard to be really fast here,” Dopfer said. “You have to ski really clean and smooth. For me, it was just a great performance.”
Both skiers have been consistently fast this season; now each have two podiums a piece.
Kostelic is now only 30 points behind Hirscher in the overall standings with 695 points. Hirscher has 725, and third place belongs to Beat Feuz with 545.
The next slalom is scheduled Jan. 22 in Kitzbuehel at 10:15 am local time.
View a video of race recap with Hirscher and Dopfer.
Click here for official results
By Vanessa Pierce