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Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) (AFP)
Marco Schwarz was one of the top performers at the world ski championships and the Austrian will look to secure another gold in Sunday’s slalom, the final event in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
In 10 action-packed days, Schwarz won gold in the alpine combined before snagging a bronze surprise in Friday’s giant slalom, his very first podium in the discipline.
Much like unannounced Italian Luca De Aliprandini, who won the GS silver medal behind French winner Mathieu Faivre, Schwarz is best known for his slalom skills.
“I entered the race relaxed,” Schwarz said of his performance in GS.
“Obviously the slalom on Sunday will be the big challenge, but entering Sunday with two medals already makes me extremely happy.”
Former Schwarz teammate Marcel Hirscher was the undisputed king of slalom, with three world titles before retiring in 2019 at the relatively tender age of 30.
Schwarz won world bronze in Are two years ago, and the only rider to win a world title on Sunday will be French veteran Jean-Baptiste Grange.
Grange, 36, won gold medals in 2011 and 2015 and is still able to claim the podium.
Grange’s teammate Clement Noel is entering the slalom as No.2 on the World Cup circuit.
His gung-ho style saw him win in Chamonix and second in Flachau, but he also landed three DNFs (did not finish).
“We’re not going to hide that this is the biggest race of the season,” said Noel.
“That’s what makes it special. We know it’s the big event of the year. We’re more keen than ever to be successful, that’s extra motivation.”
– Pinturault seeks redemption –
The French team can also count on Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Alexis Pinturault, who will seek to bounce back from their exit on the second round of the giant slalom after having signed the fastest first stage.
“We are going to focus totally on the slalom,” Pinturault said after the GS.
“Sunday is another race, a race where I am an outsider.
“There are possibilities, but this discipline has a busy field.”
Switzerland haven’t won the world slalom title for 71 years, but have a trio of runners – Loic Meillard, Daniel Yule and Ramon Zenhaeusern – able to challenge the best.
Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, who has 23 World Cup wins, including 19 in slalom – the last win in Chamonix and Madonna di Campiglio – said he liked the look of Druscie’s slalom course.
“It looks really steep, the slalom slope,” said Kristoffersen, who won Olympic bronze at the Sochi 2014 Games.
“It even looks from the top to the finish, not freezing, not too aggressive and not salty yet, from what I saw yesterday.
“I think it’s going to be salty on Sunday, and it’s steep all the way so I think it’s a really nice slalom slope.”
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