4. January 2018.
The sensational Marcel Hirscher has reclaimed the throne atop Sljeme in front of 11,000 spectators. It is the Austrian’s fourth title in Zagreb, his landmark 50th alpine skiing World Cup victory, and his unbelievable 114th podium appearance. Moreover, he demonstrated his excellent fitness as this was his third slalom victory this season.
“It is nice to be here atop Sljeme, as this is a unique event on the World Cup circuit. The course and the atmosphere were wonderful, particularly near the finish area, from where you could see Zagreb in the distance. I have to thank and congratulate the organisers and the staff for how well they prepared the course, seeing as the weather conditions weren’t perfect,” the winner of today’s race said at the press conference afterwards.
Hirscher started the race from the fourth position, eventually posting a combined two-run time of 1 minute and 50.60 seconds, 0.05 seconds ahead of second-placed Michael Matt. He had two great runs, in a perfect rhythm and with a great feel for the course, thus once more showing everyone that Sljeme was his hill.
“When you beat someone by 0.05 seconds, it is difficult to say that you are invincible. It’s more like I had tons of luck. This time, those 0.05 seconds went to my advantage.”
With this win, Hirscher has become only the fourth skier with 50 World Cup victories, alongside Ingemar Stenmark, Hermann Maier and Alberto Tomba. He now also shares third place with the great Annemarie Moser-Pröll as the best of all times in both ladies’ and men’s competition, with only Ingemar Stenmark and Lindsey Vonn ahead of them, boasting 155 and 131 podiums respectively.
“It is difficult to explain what it means to me to post 50 World Cup victories. You need to view each of those races separately. I am proud of every one of them but, primarily, I am thankful for being healthy and for the fact that both my body and my mind are there for me, following my rhythm. That’s what is so special,” Hirscher explained.
His compatriot and leading skier after the first run, Michael Matt, came in second. Matt came close to snatching his first Sljeme title, thus following in the footsteps of his brother Mario, who won back in 2008, ahead of our Ivica Kostelić.
“My first year at Sljeme, I wasn’t that familiar with the course and so, last year, I finished fifth here. That’s why I am so happy I was on the podium this time around. Hopefully, I’ll take the crown next year. As for my performance, the upper part was great, and then I lost a lot of time in the middle. Finally, just a few poles before the finish line, I lacked enough strength,” the 24-year-old Austrian explained and then went on to compliment
the race organisers, just like his older teammate.
“The course was well prepared and in perfect condition, despite the poor weather conditions. Even if you started the second run from the 30th position, you could ski really well. I enjoyed Sljeme, just as I always do,” Matt concluded.
Henrik Kristoffersen, the third skier on today’s podium, did not try to hide his disappointment with dropping to third place after the first run. “I am not disappointed. Rather, I was angry at myself for making certain mistakes that cost me a better result. Still, my anger lasted only ten or so minutes. I never hide my displeasure and I don’t believe it’s something that needs to be hidden,” the Norwegian said, and then proceeded to comment on his performance today.
“This was a better slalom performance than some of my slaloms earlier in the season. I am both skiing and feeling much better, and I am slowly but surely getting back in form,” Kristoffersen concluded.