Kostelic wins in Kranjska Gora 10 years after first victory at same venue
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – It’s been pouring rain all night in Kranjska Gora and the situation didn’t change through the morning. Despite the rain, a decision was made for the race to go as planned and a lot of effort and salt was put on the hill in the hope for the slope to present itself in the best possible conditions for the race.
In an amazing second run Ivica Kostelic moved up the rankings to win his first Slalom of the season. It’s a special victory for Kostelic as it’s his second victory at the Slovenian venue and it just happens to occur was just over 10 years after his first one in January 2003.
“It’s a wonderful feeling as it’s not easy to stay at a high level in any sport nowadays and Slalom is a particularly tough discipline where competition is really dense,” a very emotional Kostelic said.
After a season of ups and downs and struggles with a painful knee this Slalom victory comes as a reward that makes all the hard work worth it. He was sitting in third after the first run, over 1.5 seconds off Pinturault but the young French skier made a mistake and skied off the slope making the victory possible for Kostelic.
“This victory is a huge relief and it is very important for me. I saw there was a chance I could win here today but I was also aware that Pinturault had to do a big mistake. I was really pushing for a victory today, it was really my main focus.”
Hirscher knew before the end of the first run that the Slalom globe was his, he knew it the moment Felix Neureuther straddled a gate and it became impossible for the German to make up the point difference. But Hirscher almost seemed like that was not a big deal, his focus clearly on a bigger goal – defending his Overall title.
“I always go 100% percent but today there was one difference between my runs – I made a mistake in the first one and skied as I know in the second one,” Hirscher said. “That’s the way I want to ski and it’s good to be on the podium again. A big step is done and by scoring 160 points I feel the weekend was really good. Now the only thing I can do is watch TV, watch Aksel ski and see how many points he will score.
It might have been pouring rain for most of the day in Kranjska Gora but Hirscher was far from wishing the weather forced for a race cancellation.
“If the race would have been cancelled today that would have been horrible for me. It was for sure on the edge of fairness but I think it was fair enough and in the end the best skiers in the world are still among the top ten. It’s not ideal but we obviously can ski even when it’s raining.”
Mario Matt keeps steadily placing himself among the best Slalom skiers in the world and today he made it on the podium for the fourth time this season. With conditions as challenging as the ones today a third place made him more than happy.
“I tried my best today and I think that my second run was much better than the first one, I actually had a good feeling skiing down,” Matt said. “The visibility and rain were not the problem but the slope was not great for the higher racers, especially in the first run. I am among the older guys and every race you have to fight hard to be among the best guys, competition is tough and I am very happy I made it on the podium again.”
All the top 25 skiers on the Tour are already packed and ready to make their way to the Finals in Lenzerheide where the battle for the last points of the season will continue. Svindal secured the GS title in Kviftjell last weekend, Ligety secured the GS one Saturday in Kranjska Gora and Hirscher did the same with the Slalom one on Sunday. The race for the Downhill and Overall are still open so stay tuned…