Friday, January 13, 2017

Niels Hintermann Wins Alpine Combined in Wengen

It was one surprise after another in the men’s World Cup alpine combined in Wengen, Switzerland, on Friday as the home crowd was treated to a Swiss winner. 22-year-old Niels Hintermann came out of nowhere with bib 51 to take the win with a combined time of 2:56.58 seconds. Joining Hintermann on the podium were two other outsiders as France’s Maxence Muzaton finished in second from bib 32 and Austria’s Frederic Berthold was third from bib 39, 0.26 and 0.35 seconds back, respectively.
For Niels Hintermann, whose previous best World Cup finish was 21st in the 2016 Chamonix downhill, the day was something special, but the young Swiss recognized his stroke of luck to climb on top of the podium.
"I’m not that experienced in winning races, so I have no idea what’s upcoming now", he explained in the finish. "I felt good during the slalom race, I really liked it. It was tough to drive because it was pretty steep and the rollers were pretty intense … (in the downhill) the weather seemed to make a little turn, lucky for me, after me it started snowing pretty heavy again and now I’m here winning my first World Cup".
Maxence Muzaton admitted that the only reason he was racing the combined in Wengen was to get an extra run on the downhill track ahead of Saturday’s race.
"It’s an amazing day", the Frenchman said. "I never expected to be on the podium at the end, but we make an outdoor sport and today, conditions were more in my turn, so I’m happy with that. My first goal this season was the downhill. I decided to make this alpine combined only to make some speed turns. It’s pretty amazing".
For Austria’s Frederic Berthold, he also did not fancy his chances to start the day and was just as surprised as his podium-mates at the way the day turned out.
"At first, it was a very difficult slalom in the morning", said Berthold. "I tried to do a solid run, and I finished 22nd and had a good number for the downhill. The conditions got always worse, and I can’t realize that it ended with me on the podium now".
Also of note was Croatian star and 2011 overall World Cup champion Ivica Kostelic announcing that Friday’s 22nd-place finish will be his last World Cup race. The Croatian has suffered tremendous knee pain in recent years and has flirted with retirement for several seasons before finally deciding to hang up his skis.

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