By Patrick Lang
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (Reuters) - Felix Neureuther became the most successful German skier in the men’s World Cup with his 10th career victory in a slalom in Madonna di Campiglio on Monday.
Despite being hampered by lingering back problems, the Garmisch-Partenkirchen skier earned his eighth successive podium place in the discipline by upstaging German team mate Fritz Dopfer by 0.82 seconds on the floodlit Italian course, one of the most prestigious on the World Cup circuit.
In a combined time of one minute 40.57 seconds, Neureuther led a German one-two ahead of Dopfer while Jens Byggmark was third for Sweden on a piste which saw his compatriot Ingemar Stenmark clinch the first of his 86 World Cup victories 40 years ago.
“It’s amazing. The last time we skied in Madonna, I came really close after also winning the first leg. This time it worked out really, really good for me,” said the 30-year-old.
“To become the German with most World Cup wins does not really matter to me. What matters is to be the most consistent slalom specialist this season and to win the specialty’s World Cup,” added the German, narrowly beaten for the slalom globe by Austria’s Marcel Hirscher last season.
Two years ago, Neureuther had also been beaten by Hirscher in Madonna but the three times World Cup winner, hampered by a cold, was below par this time, finishing seventh after a poor first run.
“I was never in the right pace. I changed skis and boots between the runs but the damage was done," Hirscher said.
“During the Christmas break, I will train in slalom because I focused on the giant slalom in the summer to try and bridge the gap with (American Ted) Ligety possibly at the expense of my slalom skills.”
The Austrian is now second in the slalom World Cup, 24 points behind Neureuther. He is also second in the overall World Cup standings, 34 points behind Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud.
(Reporting by Patrick Lang, editing by Pritha Sarkar)