After 8 years of victory drought, Manfred Moelgg claimed the win at the slalom in Zagreb, ahead of Felix Neureuther and Henrik Kristoffersen. A firework for both the new crowned king and the 50 years of the FIS Ski World Cup concluded the “Snow Queen Trophy” in the Croatian venue.
It was well known that Manfred Mölgg is in a great shape again, as he podiumed in the Levi Slalom and ended 4th in Madonna di Campiglio. But today, he took it to another level by grabbing his third World Cup win. The last time Moelgg won was back in 2009, when he came first in a slalom race in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A year later, he finished second atop Sljeme, and this year, he announced his good form in the first three slaloms of the season.
It was a special night for Moelgg. Winning in front of so many World Cup legends who were in town to commemorate the 50th season of the World Cup provided a special atmosphere all night long. He is the second Italian, alongside Giuliano Razzoli, to take the Sljeme crown.
"It’s incredible", he said. "It’s awesome, the feeling to win here in Zagreb. It’s the birthday of the World Cup and with all of these guys, Marc Girarelli and Tomba, incredible. It’s been a lot of work in the last two weeks and now we are here in first place; it’s incredible. It was difficult for all the guys, but I stayed focused on my skiing and thought to push hard and to ski fast. That’s the only thing that I thought of until the finish line".Germany’s Felix Neureuther came second, the same as two years ago. It’s a 42nd podium for the skier from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, who had two DNFs in slalom earlier this season (in Val d’Isère and Madonna di Campiglio).
"Tough race today", Neureuther said in the finish. "We had, I think, every condition today; it was snowing, sunshine, windy, hard snow, soft snow, everything in one race. It was crazy. I am very, very happy that it ended that good for me. I watched the other guys at the start and I thought, ‘Ok, its not good for everybody, so you just have to push and don’t care if it’s windy or not,’ and it worked out pretty well for me".Henrik Kristoffersen finished third on the podium. The Norwegian, who had won the last two World Cup slaloms, failed to continue the winning streak but still finished in his highest ever position atop Sljeme.
Kristoffersen continues to chip away at Marcel Hirscher’s lead in the slalom standings and today’s result sets up an exciting month of racing for the two slalom superstars. Although the Norwegian still fancies Hirscher the favorite for the slalom title, fans can rest assured that Kristoffersen won’t give up his slalom globe title with out a fight in the coming months.
"Really happy to be on the podium, for sure, with how everything went down with the conditions, with the wind, everything", Kristoffersen explained. "Starting the new year with a third place is not bad. I think I got a little bit of wind on the flat there, especially where the banner used to be — it wasn’t there anymore when I was skiing — I got some wind there. I think there were lots of people that got more wind than I did. We are doing an outdoor sport, and we can’t change the weather, unfortunately, so that’s how it is".