Two serious mistakes for the Austrian, who still managed to finish ahead of Luca Aerni and Henrik Kristoffersen, whose quest for an historical hat-trick fell short. Amazing crowd in Madonna: seventeen thousands spectators
Four athletes in seven hundredths of a second, incredible emotions, seventeen thousand spectators spread along the "Canalone Miramonti" and the winner everyone was waiting for: Marcel Hirscher, with his second career success in Madonna di Campiglio.
He confirmed himself this year's king of the rapid gates – winning the second slalom out of three in the season - as World Cup's leader, bringing his tally to 49 total victories in the World Cup (including 22 in slalom). This year's best athlete and certainly one of the best ever.
The young Swiss Luca Aerni might feel honored for his second place behind such a prodigy. Not the best feelings for the Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen - he was looking for his third victory in a row at Madonna di Campiglio, yet he ranked third.
Another Swiss athlete ended in fourth, Daniel Yule, only seven hundredths behind the winner: there has never been such a short outstrip among the top-four of a World Cup slalom. Off-colour and not on the podium - once again the Italian team. Manfred Moelgg #7 and Stefano Gross #9 – doesn’t suggest super optimistic ambitions for the Korean Olympics, indeed.
Everything works as planned, doesn't it? Not at all - Hirscher's victory is the triumph of imperfection, of a courage worth of the best Alberto Tomba, the champion to whom this 64th 3Tre edition has been dedicated, on the thirtieth anniversary of his first victory on the "Canalone Miramonti”.
The Austrian champion, in fact, finished the first run in the leading position whilst he nearly jeopardized the second run with two big trajectory mistakes and it looked as he could give up.
"It's been incredible - Marcel said - an incomprehensible blunder. In that moment I asked myself: what do I do now? ". The answer is in the order of arrival, Hirscher tried to do all he could, sure to still have sufficient energy and an advantage to manage, even if a minimal one. So, the impossible suddenly has become reality.
“After being injured, I found out even more love and passion for this sport. Of course, it wasn’t good but there is a positive side of the coin. This victory is a beautiful Christmas gift. Thanks to everyone and happy holidays, now I come back home", he added.
Only Tomba was able to do similar things, and this makes the photo on the podium even more symbolic - Alberto Tomba and Hirscher side by side - the skiing legends of now and then, meeting. The perfect summary of a 3Tre race to be remembered, with the right snow which made the course a perfect stage for an extraordinary race on thin ice.
No chances, this time, for the great rival Kristoffersen: “In this moment, beating Marcel is actually challenging. I feel that in slalom something lacks, perhaps because of the hard work I put in the pipeline this summer on giant slalom. However, my long term aim is to become 360-degrees stronger.”
The only regret is the faint Italian result: while waiting for new Alberto Tomba, the charm of a magnificent event is still - an Oscar-worthy film for ski lovers.