Behind superstar Marcel Hirscher, the usual slalom hierarchy has been shaken up today in Levi, for the first slalom of the 2015/16 season, featuring Michael Matt and Manuel Moelgg with podium placements.
The magical atmosphere from yesterday and the northern lights from tonight turned into a windy, humid and cold winter day on Sunday. Despite challenging weather condition and poor visibility, the course itself was in a great shape to host the slalom on the Levi Black, and the action was not lacking.
For example super star Marcel Hirscher, who claimed the win despite several setbacks. First he suffered an infection of the inner ear and wasn’t sure he would even be able to participate in the race. Then, as many other athletes, he experienced iced up goggles in the first run, because of the frozen fog that was sitting in the upper part of the course. And finally he laid down an agitated second run. Nevertheless, Marcel Hirscher knows how to handle tricky situations and pushed hard to grab his 40th World Cup win.
“I am very thankful that I am able to ski here today and compete in this race, but yesterday it was not that good. Today, it was already in the morning clear that I can compete today, so this is amazing that I can be in this race and what is great is just to see my team colleagues so close by my side.”
The first run already announced an Austrian duo at the very top of the ranking, as Marco Schwarz finished second of the first run right behind Hirscher. The Madonna di Campiglio and Yuzawa Naeba podium finisher struggled with the conditions and skied out. However, another Austrian young gun was able to make a jump in the ranking and finish 2nd: Mario Matt.
“It was amazing,” said Matt. “Training has gone really well, I was always fast and I’m really happy that I could show my good skiing on the race today. I’m more than happy with the second place. In the first run, I was a little bit more nervous. Second run, I felt that the skis were doing what I want and then if you can push and ski the way you want, then it’s not that difficult anymore. Watching Marcel and all them on the TV and now you’re in the middle of the ski World Cup, it’s amazing.”
In third place, Italy’s Manfred Moelgg finally found his way back to the podium. The South Tyrolean has been waiting for this since January 2014, when he podiumed in Bormio’s slalom and finished 5th and 6th in Adelboden. After winning the slalom globe in 2008, he may be back on a performance streak that leads him back into the Top 15 of the World.
“It’s fantastic,” said Moelgg. “It’s been a long time and I’m happy to be on the podium. It was a tough race, always a tough hill, but I am happy about that and we will see about the next race. I had a little bit of a mistake in the last part and I saw one hundredth and was not so happy, but that was the performance so after that to stay on the podium is very nice.”
The men’s slalom concluded the racing week-end in Levi, Finland. After a week-end off, the World Cup is scheduled to move to North America for tech event in Killington (ladies) and speed events in Lake Louise (men).