Rare mistake on slushy snow keeps Hirscher off slalom podium
Marcel Hirscher’s dominant season came to a slightly disappointing end Sunday when he lost time at the bottom of the men’s slalom course on Aspen Mountain and missed the podium.
Hirscher still won the slalom title but he said Saturday he was at the World Cup Finals to win. He was leading by 0.08 of a second after the first run over Andre Myhrer of Sweden. Hirscher increased his lead on the top half of the course in the second run, but uncharacteristically let the advantage evaporate in the warm Colorado sun.
Myhrer won the race with a combined time of 1 minute, 27.97 seconds. Felix Neureuther of Germany finished second, 0.14 of a second back. Michael Matt lost valuable time with a slip on the second race and ended up third just 0.01 behind Neureuther.
Hirscher was fourth, but the consolation was crystal globes for the season titles in slalom, giant slalom and overall points.
“A mistake five gates from the finish line wasn’t the happiest moment of the ski season,” he said. “Anyway, a fourth-place finish is great and it was solid skiing especially on the first half of the (second) run.
“All in all, this day is great. To have three globes in your hands, three medals around your neck is a really great end of the season,” Hirscher continued.
Hirscher’s overall title was his sixth in a row — a performance unmatched in men’s or women’s World Cup skiing. He said he still can find issues to motivate him — like finishing fourth in Sunday’s slalom.
Myhrer hadn’t won slalom all season. His last victory was in the 2016 World Cup Finals. He said it was a good way to end the season and provide motivation for 2017-18.
The warm temperatures softened the snow and made conditions challenging on the second run, which didn’t start until 12:30 p.m. The course crew was using water and salt to try to keep it firm.
“I lost a little of the momentum. I missed the tracks a little bit,” Myher said. “On this course and this condition, time goes fast when you miss (the line). I think that’s what happened to Marcel as well.”
Hirscher had the slalom title sewed up before the race. He finished ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway. Kristoffersen had a disappointing second run when he missed a gate. He hiked back up the course and completed the race but finished 24th.
Although he is only 28 years of age, Hirscher acknowledged for the second time in two days he’s starting to ponder retirement. There will be a day when he quits ski racing and goes out “just for fun,” he said.
“There is this question, do I decide when there is this point, or go the natural way — the young athletes kicking my ass,” Hirscher quipped.
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The canceled 2020 race would have been the fourth running of the Colorado Classic, which each year has included stages in Colorado’s mountain towns before finishing with a final stage in the heart of downtown Denver. Snowmass had been scheduled to host a stage last summer for the first time.