Mitja Valencic and Mario Matt, both perhaps concerned more with a good finish than the podium,
skied strong, safe runs. Patrick Thaler then put in a brilliant run to take the lead, but lost half his
first-run margin in doing so.
At the top of the hill, Kostelic was laying in the snow with flakes landing on his eyelids. He knew
what to expect and knew how he wanted to go about his run.
Felix Neureuther skied solidly to the lead, joyous enough to mimic a hockey slapshot for the crowd
and let out a “wahoo.”
Myhrer took the chances and survived to gain the lead. Manfred Moelgg exited, projected off
course after getting behind a rut. Pranger finished several tenths off Myhrer’s time and DeVille, full
of confidence for perhaps the first time in his career, skied within two hundredths of Myhrer.
Then it was time for Kostelic.
“I did not know the times of the others when I started,” he said. “I just focused on my run.”
He said he tried to stay relaxed and, “... I tried not to attack too much, just wanted to ski smooth.”
He worked with the ruts on the steep upper portion of the course, fired through the flushes and remained steadily over his skis. His 0.35 margin slipped only minisculy to 0.33 and then 0.32 before
the final pitch. There he carefully picked his way through the trickiest part of the course set. At the
end, he was 0.07 ahead for his 20th Cup win, his 13th in slalom and his second of the season.
“I don’t remember when was the last time that the three guys at the top were separated by nine
hundreds of a second,” Kostelic said. “It was an amazing race, especially for the spectators. Just
two days ago I was really disappointed and sad about how things went in Alta Badia. I was just 17
hundredths away from second place and was fifth. But one of my friends once said — the wheel of
fortune is turning, sometimes you are down sometimes you are up. I think today there was a little
bit of luck for me as well.”
survived to get
a finish in the
was one of few
able to move up
the finish order.