Palander sees a bigger challenge for comeback in slalom than GS
As the teams are getting ready for the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup slalom races at Levi, all eyes are set on Kalle Palander. The Finn is on the verge of making his slalom comeback after achieving 11th place in the first run of the giant slalom in Sölden, Austria.
At the Fischer press meeting at Levi on Friday, Palander appeared confident and relaxed, joking about almost everything as usual. When he was asked a question by former racer Sami Uotila, who was hosting the meeting, Palander quickly turned the attention to Uotila:
"Sami, I hear that you, too, are making a comeback! When I woke up this morning and checked the news on the Internet, I couldn't believe my eyes reading that," Palander said with a typical grin on his face.
"Uh, yeah... we'll have to talk about that later," Uotila replied and somehow managed to switch the conversation back to Palander's skiing.
Although Palander did exceptionally well in Sölden's giant slalom after almost three seasons of absence from the World Cup, he insists that slalom is a completely different story. He told the media that his first challenge at Levi will be qualifying for the second run:
"With the start number 55 at 33 years of age, it's not going to be easy. But I'm feeling good."
Other racers present at the Fischer Press Meeting included Finns Tanja Poutiainen and Sanni Leinonen, along with Croat Ivica Kostelic.
"Slalom is still my number one event, so I'm feeling confident," Kostelić said. "Of course I would also like to win in the speed events. Every year I am coming closer to the podium in speed events so I hope to also win in them once. I will be trying to push myself in the overall World Cup too, that's one of my goals. We have been working hard with Fischer in the last two years on the speed skis, and that is bringing results with good results in those races for me."
"Being an allrounder in a small team like ours it is not easy especially in terms of training speed. Slalom is my best event, so I mostly train that and GS. I do not train that much speed at all. When the season starts, I ski the downhill trainings and that's about it with my speed training. We've pretty much continued along the same lines we've done in the past, training in Hintertux and Mölltal mostly. But I feel ready."
A lot can also be expected this season from another Fischer skier, Germany's Kathrin Hölzl who finished second in Sölden's giant slalom.
"Sölden was the first race in the season, being a favorite feels good but the season is long. Let’s see how it goes. I trained a lot of slalom in New Zealand this summer and am doing well. My goal for tomorrow is being in the top 15. We'll see what happens in tomorrow's race," Hölzl said.
Alongside the rest of the Fischer Alpine Racing Team, Croatia's Ivica Kostelić seemed eager to compete and achieve good results at Levi.
Includes contributions by Jaakko Mannermaa