MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY – Austria’s defending World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher won his second race of the season in dominant fashion as he won the slalom here on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old — who had previously won the giant slalom at Val d’Isere — eased to victory, in 1 minute, 42.50 seconds over the two legs to continue his run of seven podium finishes in seven races this season.
He is the first skier to achieve that in the technical events since the great Italian Alberto Tomba in the 1991-92 season.
Germany’s Felix Neureuther finished second 1.67 seconds adrift
Naoki Yuasa took a surprise third spot, 2.28 off the pace despite suffering from a painful back — the first skier from Japan to finish in the top three of a World Cup race since another slalom specialist, Akira Sasaki, was second at Shigakogen in 2006.
“I risked everything,” gasped Hirscher, who won his 14th career race.
“I would like to congratulate Naoki Yuasa. He is a real battler, it is admirable what he did. But of course, I had to accelerate even more because of that on the second leg. I had heard that Felix was the fastest. At the moment everything is going really well.”
Yuasa, 29, said that he surprised even himself with his performance.
“Nobody could have thought I was going to ski like that,” he said. “It is unbelievable. I had such a painful back that I don’t even remember the last 17 gates.
“Despite these problems, I didn’t even think for a moment of withdrawing from the second leg. I was 26th at that moment and I still had hopes of moving up the standings. It is my job after all.”
Hirscher had set the fastest time in the first leg, timing 0.06 quicker than Neureuther while Italian Cristian Deville was third.
Yuasa was one of the early skiers on the second leg — there were still 25 to race after he had finished — but he posted such a competitive time that it forced several racers to take risks with Deville the highest profile casualty, as he crashed out.
While Neureuther eventually denied Yuasa a fairy-tale victory, his time was not nearly good enough to prevent Hirscher from storming to victory on a piste returning to the World Cup schedule after a seven year hiatus.
Vonn plans to relax
Lindsey Vonn doesn’t plan to do any serious training on skis during her midseason break from the World Cup.
Rainer Salzgeber, racing director of Vonn’s equipment supplier Head, told AP on Tuesday that the four-time overall winner hasn’t asked for her ski technician Heinz Haemmerle to follow her to the United States.
“No, she won’t ski. She said she needs to rest and get her fitness, and I think also her mind,” Salzgeber said at a men’s slalom race. “She wants to do some dry-land training, and that’s it.”