6. January 2019.
The unstoppable Austrian Marcel Hirscher has won his fifth title at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” races so far. At today’s race, he completed a phenomenal second run, crushing the competition and increasing his unbelievable number of wins this season in the World Cup. After his two slalom runs atop Sljeme, he celebrated his victory (1:48.64) ahead of the second-placed Frenchman Alexis Pinturault (+0.60) and another Austrian Manuel Feller (+0.62), whoeventually took the third place.
Croatia’s skiers did great today on Sljeme. Istok Rodeš repeated his career-best seventh place from Madonna di Campiglio, while Matej Vidović and Elias Kolega posted their best World Cup results, placing 15th and 20th respectively. Filip Zubčić and Leon Nikić did not qualify for the second run, and Samuel Kolega failed to complete the first part of the race.
At the press conference following the race, the new Sljeme king Marcel Hirscher did not hide his joy over his own performance. “After two unsuccessful races in Oslo and Madonna di Campiglio, which are now behind me, it is nice to once again win the maximum number of points in a World Cup event. Many people concern themselves with the number of winners podiums I’ve been on and victories I’ve had, but I am not really interested in that. I am overjoyed that today I skied well all the way to the finish line,” he said.
The 29-year-old Austrian complimented the conditions on the course and the organisation of the race. “Honestly, today we had the best course conditions in the entire season. The Snow Queen races are always fun, extremely safe and an example for organising such sporting events. There are also the spectators, who loudly and equally cheer on all the competitors, and always with great respect,” Hirscher stressed and then commented on the Sljeme crowns he had won so far: “I keep them in a safe place. It is difficult to keep so many trophies. I fondly remember all of them and that is the most important thing.”
Still, the great Austrian announced his skiing days were coming to a close. “Maybe we will see each other in a year or two, maybe not. It is hard to keep the rhythm and constantly be on top of the game. It’s not just about skiing; course conditions keep changing, just like the styles, and also, there are all these younger generations who keep pushing harder all the time. It gets more difficult with every new year,” he concluded.
The second-placed Alexis Pinturault was very pleased with his result. “I’ve had a lot of problems coming back to the top and on winners podiums. I’ve had some tough years, but I am now even more focused than before. I am glad I won the second place, but I do feel like there is still room for improvement,” said the Frenchman, once again reiterating how good the Crveni Spust course was: “I agree with Marcel. The skiing conditions were incredible, the best this World Cup season. We are tremendously happy when we get to show what we know on a course like that.”
Another Austrian, the 26-year-old Manuel Feller, managed to hold on to the third place he took after the first run. “I am extremely happy with my third place, and I am especially happy seeing as all of us on the team are getting better with each race. Marcel is the one currently showing us which way we should go and raising the bar each time, and that can only be good for us. We are all improving with him beside us,” Feller added and then commented on the great results of the Croatian skiers: “I am very happy that Istok, Matej and Elias skied so well and posted such great results. It is good for the sport: the more countries in the top 30 we have, the better.”
Finally, Feller repeated what Hirscher and Pinturault had said before him. “Without a doubt, this was the best slalom course this year. When you ski with a high start number, somewhere between 40 and 50, and still manage to join the top 15, it is a sign that the course was excellent,” concluded the Austrian.