Pyeongchang: Austrian Marcel Hirscher’s quest for a third gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games came to an abrupt end today when he bombed out of the first leg of the Olympic slalom.
Hirscher failed to find his rhythm on a course set by his own coach, Michael Pircher, and eventually missed a gate.
The 28-year-old had already won the men’s alpine combined and giant slalom, his first individual Olympic titles after having dominated the World Cup for the last six years.
He was aiming to become only the fourth skier in history to win a third gold medal at a single Olympics, joining Austria’s Toni Sailer (1956), Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy and Croatia’s Janica Kostelic (2002).
It was Hirscher’s first failure in 21 slaloms, taking in the World Cup and world championships.
Hirscher said he had not been overwhelmed by pressure, but revealed he had not been comfortable training all week.
“No, no. After winning two gold medals there is no pressure at all,” he said.
“Everything is fine, I feel sorry for my special discipline slalom, but on the other side these were very successful Olympic Games.”
– Really bad feeling –
Hirscher added: “The feeling was really bad the whole week on slalom skis and this is the final result.
“I had absolutely no confidence on this kind of snow. I skied really badly. This is what also can happen and is part of the game, part of the sport. You have success and sometimes you have not the best days.”
Hirscher said that while his exit was “disappointing”, he had not been expecting to “medal in slalom because training was really bad”.
“In the giant slalom it was OK with the snow conditions, but with slalom skis I really don’t prefer these aggressive conditions but this is definitely my mistake.”
The reigning world champion’s exit cleared the path for Norwegian rival Henrik Kristoffersen, who clocked a blistering 47.72 seconds down the Rainbow 1 course in Yongpyong.
Kristoffersen, who claimed silver behind Hirscher in the giant slalom here and won slalom bronze in Sochi four years ago, was one of only two racers to dip under 48sec.
Sweden’s Andre Myhrer timed 47.93sec, with France’s Victor Muffat-Jeandet, bronze medallist in the combined, in third (48.34).
Dave Ryding, a strong contender for a podium place and Britain’s first alpine medal, paid the price for an error up top to finish 1.37sec off the pace. The second run is scheduled for 1:30 pm (0430 GMT). (PTI)