Also making the flip was Japan’s Naoki Yuasa, still racing on
Hart skis and a man who absolutely adores Schladming. He
lists it as his favorite race site, a fact apparently not lost on the
fans. Austrian Reinfried Herbst, the winner at Schladming in
2009 and 2010 and therefore a local favorite was in the lead
when the Yuasa kicked out into the lighted night. It was snow-
ing harder than the first run and a bit windier as well but noth-
ing fazed him. He charged particularly on the upper part of the
course, he recovered, he maintained his speed and he swept
into a lead. No racer yet to take the hill would best his second-
run time. The next two guys went out trying with DNFs.
But 13 men had faster first-run times with which to work. Ital-
ian Stefano Gross, seventh after the first run, took the lead
from the Japanese. In succession, Kostelic, Jens Byggmark
and Myhrer could not overtake the Italian. All of Gross’s top- 10
finishes have come this season and his only previous podium
was 16 days earlier at Adelboden. His teammate had just won
at Kitzbuehel. He was an excited man as he watched the criti-
cal runs of the race unfold from the leader’s platform.
The course was rough and got progressively slushier as rac-
ers moved down the hill. Dopfer got off line and took a pole
head on. With just two Austrians left the decibel level climbed.
Mario Matt, a two-time winner on the hill, worked his way
down. His errors were small, perhaps a touch heavy on the
edge here and there. The outcome was that Gross retained
the lead by hundredths of a second.
It was time for Hirscher’s encore. The hum of the crowd was
loud and relentless. “With 50,000 honey bees behind me, I
had to ski fast,” he said. He skied as fast as he could, but the
course seemed to fight his every turn, at some points slick
and icy, in others broken down with holes. At each interval his
large first run lead dropped further away, and the crowd got a
When Marcel Hirscher crossed the finish line and saw he had
held on to win by 0.22, he fell to the ground, rolled on his back
and kicked his skis in the air in celebration. It may just have
been the sixth win of his impressive season, but to him it was
the biggest of his life.
There were three North American scoring results. Ted Ligety
recorded his best slalom finish in years in sixth. Mike Janyk
got 20th and Brad Spence was 17th marking the first time he
had completed a run, let alone two, down the Planai.
“This is my third year here and it’s the first time I’ve finished
the first run,” he said. “It was a little bit of a learning experi-
ence because I haven’t skied the bottom before.”
his skis in
the air to
Brad Spence saw the
course bottom for the first
time in three chances.
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