Mario Matt wins for a record 14th time
VAL D’ISERE, France – It’s the second day of racing on the Face de Bellevarde and the conditions didn’t get any easier compared to Saturday’s giant slalom race. The best example of how difficult and icy the Val d’Isere slope is this year are the 29 out of the 68 racers competing who were unable to make it to the finish line.
After setting the best time in the first run, Mario Matt kept his momentum going in the second run and clinched his 14th career victory. With today's win, he matched Benjamin Raich’s record number of World Cup slalom victories by any Austrian slalom skier and made it his 39th slalom podium.
“I am very happy about this result, I was a few times on the podium in the past two years but since Kranjska Gora in 2011 I couldn’t win,” Matt said.
Matt might have been the fastest today, but he admitted that it was not an easy ride down the icy Face de Bellevarde.
“You have to push your limits in order to win, and I did that, but I was still surprised how fast I was in the first run. I think today no one felt too comfortable, but at least in the second run the first part felt really good so I can’t complain. We trained in great conditions this fall so that’s maybe why I am in good shape this early in the season. We also had a great last training session in St.Anton before coming here, it was on a steep slope and it was a good chance to get ready for the conditions we found on the Face de Bellevarde.”
Matthias Hargin put down a flawless second run and moved from eight place into second, making it his third podium so far.
“It feels really good to finally get another podium. It has been two years since my podiums in Zagreb and Schladming and I have been fighting a lot these last two years. It feels great to capitalize on that! It gives me confidence for the future knowing that all the hard work is paying off,” Hargin said.
Hargin has gone through a lot of ups and downs in the past few seasons but he seems to be finally finding the right way for him.
“ This season we have a new coach, Rudi Soulard, and that change has been very important for me. We have the same way of thinking and we worked a lot on the setup, finding a way to help me ski smoother and not have it set up as aggressively as I used to do before,” Hargin was full of praise for Soulard.
Third place went to Patrick Thaler, who after a few rough season where he got pushed out of the top 30 and eventually didn’t get nominated to the Italian team, proved that at 36 he was not yet to be discarded.
“It’s a special day for me, I was fighting for many years to come back on the podium and I have to thank a lot of people,” an emotional Thaler said after his great race.
“A special thanks goes to all my coaches but especially to Jacques Théolier who never stopped believing in me and gave me a chance to race when I was no longer part of the team three years ago.”
Luckily things took a turn for the better for him and he is now a full member of the team, but still has the flexibility, which comes with racing World Cups for over 15 years.
“I am now back with the team but I still do my own summer program. I am among the oldest on the Tour, I skied my first World Cup races in Shigakogen in 1997 and I don’t need to ski so many days anymore. Also, I have a 2 year old boy now so I want to have the freedom to be a more involved father during the summer.”
It has been a great weekend in Val d’Isere but as always, there is little time for celebrations as teams pack up and move to the next stop – Val Gardena!