Alpine skiing: Planai premiere as a “highlight” for women

The Slovakian won five of the six previous slaloms and was second in the only victory of Mikaela Shiffrin, which means 240 points ahead of the American who was eliminated in Kranjska Gora. If Vlhova is so clearly ahead after Schladming, she is sure of the ball ahead of time, because only two more races are on the program after the Olympics.

Initially, however, full concentration applies to the floodlit slalom on the Planai, on which the traditional “night race” usually takes place in front of up to 50,000 fans. If one hopes for 1,000 spectators for the men on January 25th, the women’s slalom will be staged without a live audience after a corresponding ÖSV coronavirus precautionary measure.

Route is somewhat defused

The anticipation for the Planai challenge is still huge. Whereas a year ago the slalom men were driving on the Flachau “fairy tale meadow” (winner Manuel Feller) instead of in Kitzbühel because of the pandemic, women now have to tackle the up to 52 percent steep men’s slope in Schladming, 32 kilometers away. Shortening the route, grooming the slopes and setting the course pulls its teeth a bit, but it is always a challenge.

Ski women boss Christian Mitter knows the slope like the back of his hand. “It’s great that women are now allowed to ski on this route too,” said the Styrian, who classifies the slope as not that bad at all. “The slope is notorious as very difficult. But it is also something for young people who step on the gas. There is also something going on here with number 35 or 40, if you think you can, ”the coach told his girls. Plus the note: “The steep part in the middle is not even as long as Levi and not as steep as you think.”

Troop positive CoV test

Katharina Truppe has no Planai experience. The Carinthian missed the Planai premiere because of a positive coronavirus test. The Carinthian woman in particular was really looking forward to Schladming. “It’s going to be a spectacle. It’s really cool to ski on a men’s slope, ”she said after finishing seventh in Kranjska Gora on Sunday.

So far, only Marlies Raich (formerly Schild) managed to make a direct comparison with the men on the Planai. Shiffrin, who became world champion on a neighboring slope in Schladming in 2013, has long wanted to be compared with the men. Preferably on the Planai. At the moment, the most successful slalom skier in victories (46) has to measure herself against Vlhova, who is in overform.

Liensberger only knows Planai “from below”

Austria’s slalom women traveled to Schladming with a seventh (troop), eighth (Katharina Gallhuber) and eleventh (Katharina Huber) place from Kransjka Gora and thus a somewhat mixed balance. Also because Liensberger went without points twice in Slovenia. Just minutes after her threading-in, the Vorarlberg native put the anticipation of the home race in the foreground.

“I like night races very much,” assured Liensberger. She has only known the Planai “from below, as a spectator” in the finish area. “But I haven’t ridden it yet.” She will be able to do it under perfect conditions. Thanks to clever slope preparation, OC boss Hans Grogl promised that the race track would be tough but grippy and highly praised by FIS Race Director Markus Mayr after the last difficult races.

GEPA/Matic Klansek

Katharina Liensberger would love to land on the podium in Schladming

Don’t be afraid of steep slopes

Gallhuber was initially sad that her favorite race had been canceled. “But driving in Schladming will be a highlight, I’m really looking forward to it,” said the Lower Austrian, who will be back in shape in time for the Olympics after her injury. She is not afraid of the Schladming steep slope. “If you adjust to it well, then anything is possible.”

Huber would be the most likely fourth in the ÖSV slalom line-up for Beijing two rounds before the Olympics. Schladming could suit her. “That will be cool. I have shown that I can ski quite well on steep slopes. And there is a steep slope ”, said the Lower Austrian with a wink. She also finds the lack of spectators a shame. “But driving down there is always awesome one way or another.”

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Alpine skiing: Planai premiere as a “highlight” for women