The two parallel alpine ski races in Lech / Zürs did not bring Austria a podium. While in the women’s specialist Elisa Mörzinger came eighth, in the men’s Adrian Pertl in fourth, he missed his second World Cup podium by a wafer. Almost six weeks after Sölden, the second “mixed” Austria double in the Alpine Skiing World Cup went smoothly without an audience, despite the strict Corona conditions.
The biggest excitement about the World Cup comeback after 26 years in Vorarlberg was the riddle about the different test results of Chiara Mair. The Tyrolean, like Marco Schwarz, who was previously “thwarted” by Corona, was also unable to take part in the race. The Krone reported four tests, three of them negative. Once the CT value was too low, the last officially ordered test, however, turned out negative. In addition, the medical officer is said to have declared during the event that Mair could actually have started the race.
As in Sölden, the prevention concept of the ÖSV took full effect on site and contributed to the successful event. The World Cup will also be held in Lech / Zürs next year, probably with spectators again. One reckons with up to 10,000 fans.
Vlhova and Pinturault the big winners
The big winners in the new Flexenarena were Petra Vlhova and Alexis Pinturault. While the Slovakian achieved her third win in a row and is clearly leading in the World Cup after four races, Austria specialist Pinturault (10 victories) wrote something like “skiing history”. The 29-year-old Frenchman has now won in slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, Alpine Combination, City Event and Parallel and thus, according to the FIS definition, as the first ski racer to win in six “different” disciplines.
“But I was also lucky with these six disciplines. Because City and Parallel are a little bit the same for me”, even Pinturault put this into perspective, because city events were also known to be parallel races. At least a circle came full circle for Pinturault am Arlberg. Because the first of his now 30 World Cup victories was a parallel competition in Moscow in February 2012. The Frenchman is now the tenth ski racer with 30 victories. Next up is Bode Miller (USA) at 33.
Pertl narrowly missed the podium
The honor of the hosts saved Pertl. The 24-year-old from Carinthia only lost in the semi-finals against Henrik Kristoffersen in the evening as a strong qualifier. In the duel for third place, the Carinthian had to admit defeat to the German Alexander Schmid and missed the award ceremony by 0.58 seconds.
“My main goal was to still be there in the evening. Then of course it is a shame when you have a chance on the podium and it doesn’t quite work,” said Pertl. “Nevertheless, I am of course very satisfied with my first parallel event, even if it was quite stressful in between,” admitted the technology specialist, who is described by coach Marco Pfeifer as a man with “nerves like steel ropes” and yet “easy like all Carinthians” . “That’s right, I’m on the more relaxed side. But that is normal as a Carinthian standard”, Pertl confirmed with a smile.
Last February, the 24-year-old competed on the World Cup podium for the first time, finishing third in slalom in Chamonix. After Lech, hopes arose for an RTL start in Santa Caterina. “That wasn’t an issue before Lech. But maybe the coaches are still thinking about it,” said Pertl, who stayed with his ÖSV colleagues for slalom training in Zürs after the race.
Encouragement for the new format of the World Cup parallel races
The first parallel World Cup races of this winter were the last, apart from the fact that this discipline is also on the program for the first time at the Cortina World Cup in February. The format with 16 knockout finals and giant slalom material was well received or at least was appreciated by many drivers as “progress”. Even if aces like Kristoffersen or Lara Gut-Behrami continue to prefer “real” World Cup races.
“The way it is being held now, it is a really cool race,” said ÖSV slalom boss Pfeifer. “If there is also an audience, it creates a tremendous atmosphere,” the Carinthian is convinced. Local hero Christian Hirschbühl was initially not entirely happy despite eighth place in his comeback race after a long injury break, but was pleased with the successful outcome. “Praise to the organizer. It’s cool that they managed it so well in such difficult times,” said the man from Vorarlberg.