A victory on Sunday would be a sensation, although it is possible according to slalom coach Marko Pfeifer. After saying goodbye to victory guarantor Marcel Hirscher, the top three of the Austrian slalom aces struggled with problems for a long time.
After his cruciate ligament rupture in Adelboden, Marco Schwarz found himself in third place again, Marco Feller continues to suffer from the consequences of his herniated disc. Michael Matt looks back on a completely messed up season, recently also eliminated in Wengen. Added to this was the failure of the aspiring Christian Hirschbühl. Had it not been for Fabio Gstrein in the spotlight for him from the second row, it would have looked bitter.
“I have healthy athletes for the first time”
After hard training in the last few days, all top drivers apparently reported back in good shape and in good shape for Kitzbühel, which Coach Pfeifer was particularly pleased and confirmed in his work. “For the first time this winter I am satisfied, for the first time I have healthy athletes,” said Pfeifer.
Black had realized that its shape curve continued to increase, as did the Fellers. Frosted? “He made a great turnaround. Because once you’re at the bottom, you don’t care. But we have analyzed well. I’m happy, ”said Pfeifer.
It was based on a plan that had worked splendidly for ranks one, two and three at major events, most recently at the World Cup in Aare. “So we set up the home races like world championships, which has always been our strength in recent years when we can prepare in peace. Qualitative and with simulation of terrain shapes, ”said Pfeifer.
Planned for a long time
For Kitzbühel there was practice on a wavy and tactically demanding slope in Going, the rhythm for Schladming was simulated in Kössen. In rotating individual training sessions, black, matt and feller were introduced to their old form in the best possible way. “That was my goal and we succeeded,” said Pfeifer.
The mission for Kitzbühel and Schladming started with the first fitness course in summer. “The goal was to get better at the Austrian races.” Especially since the current team in the home slaloms of the past years had not had a driver on the podium.
“We had to deal with this curse. We even climbed the slopes. This circle will close on Sunday, ”said Pfeifer. “I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure we will be on the podium or for the win. We have good people who ski great, and this time we want to show that without pressure. ”
A season to forget
The previous season has been forgotten, according to Pfeifer. “It was like bewitched this year, because there was a breakdown, a breakdown there, then the injury to Hirschbühel, who was constantly able to take the top spots. That was incredible, a real shame, ”said Pfeifer. And so in the middle of the season he can only refer to one podium, that of Schwarz.
It is positive that drivers like Gstrein and Johannes Strolz have moved up and performed well in the World Cup. Gstrein finished seventh in Adelboden and twelve in Wengen, while Strolz was tenth in Madonna with the best result of his career.
According to Pfeifer, it is a special winter for his top drivers with special conditions. Certain things weren’t going well. “We still have to learn, for example in aggressive slope conditions. But I know that the current problems will make them even stronger. “
Ideally in Kitzbühel or Schladming and in the following races, at the latest in the next season. Then the measures should really take effect. “You will have matured. And if the circumstances are different in advance, it will click, ”said Pfeifer, who also brought changes to the situation for his athletes this season due to Hirscher’s resignation.
From the shadow of the best
“This is a new situation in the team. In the past, the boys always wanted to hit or annoy deer because he was the best in the world. That was the goal, ”said Pfeifer. There was always Hirscher in the front, but in his wake it was enough for the teammates to top positions. “When Hirscher suddenly stops, it’s a different perception.”
Suddenly Matt and Co. were on their own and responsible for the victories that Hirscher had achieved in series. He won twice in Kitzbühel and even three times in Schladming – most recently last season. So far, this burden weighed too heavily for his successors. On Sunday the tide could finally turn in the best of health.