Zagreb Men's slalom on Wednesday, January 6, 2010
ZAGREB, Croatia (Jan. 4) - Following a short holiday break, the men's tech skiers are back in action on Wednesday this week for the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup night slalom in Zagreb.
The first run of Wednesday's race begins at 15:15 h CET followed by the second run at 18:30 h CET.
The Crveni spust race hill may not be technically very demanding but nevertheless always draws a large crowd of fans who find their way from the Croatian capital city to the race to hill to cheer on the athletes. It was nearly 10,000 spectators in the ladies' race yesterday, even more fans are expected for the men's race on Wednesday.
On the men's tour, Zagreb features the second highest prize money for a technical race offering the winner 50,000 Euros and prize money for all top 30 racers. Only the men's slalom in Kitzbuehel, Austria pays out more to the top 30 finishers.
January is an important month on the World Cup schedule with six slalom races. After Zagreb, the tech skiers head to Adelboden, Switzerland for a giant-slalom and slalom first. They then join the speed skiers in Wengen, Switzerland where the first of the two major classic downhill World Cups will take place along with a slalom. In the second half of January, there will be more races in Kitzbuehel and Schladming, both Austria, as well as in Kranskja Gora, Slovenia.
January is a very travel-intense and demanding month for the racers. This year even more so because many athletes will be working to claim their Olympic spots. With team coaches and officials paying close attention to these next few races, the pressure is definitely on.
Several skiers will come back from injury and give their comeback in January.
The 30-year-old local hero Ivica Kostelic will be back on the scene in Zagreb as confirmed by the Croatian Ski Federation on Sunday. The Croatian was recently required to undergo arthroscopic surgery in his right knee. After a short rehab, he trained with his father Ante during the last few days in Innerkrems.
Among those returning are the two South Tyrolean Alpine skiers, Peter Fill and Werner Heel who will race again in the downhill in Wengen on January 16.
Last but not least, the Austrian Rainer Schoenfelder celebrates his comeback on the Sljeme mountain Wednesday after having suffered a series of injuries over the past couple years. Schoenfelder will join the fight trying to earn a spot on the competitive Austrian Olympic slalom team.
Apparently two-time World Cup overall champion Bode Miller will miss the slalom in Zagreb to continue focusing on his conditioning and further rest a sore ankle. He is scheduled to rejoin the World Cup in Adelboden, Switzerland this weekend.