As the races planned for Zagreb last weekend had to be moved to Bormio in Italy because of the mild weather conditions, the piste workers and organisers had their hands full. After days of sleet, the grippy-soft piste at the bottom of the Stelvio run posed a special challenge for the racers and their equipment providers.
Local hero Manfred Mölgg, however, was unperturbed by the demanding conditions and made it to the podium. In sixth place after the first run he then climbed to third in the second, securing himself a place on the podium in the first Slalom of the new year.
It was Manfred Mölgg's 17th World Cup podium in his career and his 13th in Slalom. The fact that this coincided with his 200th World Cup race and a sign that the hard work in recent weeks and months had paid off left the racer from Gadertal overjoyed: "This is a very important podium for me. I worked hard for it the whole summer. I attacked from the beginning because I was determined to get a good result. We trained especially for this over the past two or three weeks so we can attack at any time and ski aggressively without having to think about the risk of making a mistake. It's nice to see that I can still be a force to be reckoned with even after 200 World Cup races. Bormio is a lucky place for me. It was here that I took part in my first World Cup race. I won the Slalom World Cup here in 2008 and came third in a Giant Slalom. Third place in front of a home crowd always works wonders."
Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA) also showed that his fourth place in Val d'Isère did not happen by accident and that he is back among the world's best with sixth place in Bormio. It seems as if the time between 2011 and 2013 in which he was plagued by serious injuries is now a thing of the past. Grange has found his way back to stability again. It looks as if it is just a matter of time until he is standing on the podium again.
Patrick Thaler (ITA) also put in a good performance. He was in eighth place after the first run and went on to finish the race in eleventh. The 35-year-old has been very consistent this season. After sixth place in Levi and third in Val d'Isère this was the third time in succession that he finished among the world's best Slalom racers. "I have to be satisfied. I just feel a bit sorry about making a mistake at the end of the first run. Not everything went to plan in the second run either. I still have to learn how to ski between the tracks," says Thaler, commenting on his eleventh place.
Despite suffering from an MCL sprain in his right knee and having to take painkillers, Reinfried Herbst (AUT) was in a sensational fourth place after the first run and finished twelfth overall.