Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Luca Aerni Wins St. Moritz 2017 Combined Gold


The Swiss had another amazing day at the 2017 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships after Luca Aerni earned the alpine combined gold medal. His teammate Mauro Caviezel took home the bronze medal, bringing the medal tally for the host nation to six in as many races.
Luca Aerni, who was named as the last Swiss racer for the alpine combined team just last night, finished in 30th place in the downhill run, making him the first starter for the slalom run. He clocked the fastest time of the day in the slalom, although did not know if his run would hold off the top names like Marcel Hirscher and Alexis Pinturault and had to sit through the entire field waiting in the leader box.
But one-by-one his competition came down and could not best the young Swiss ace. Hirscher missed the mark by the smallest of all possible margins, 0.01 seconds, taking home the silver medal. Swiss teammate Mauro Caviezel, meanwhile, also came very close, ending just 0.06 seconds off the golden pace for the bronze.
"I was really nervous the last 45 minutes waiting for everyone to finish", said Aerni. "I could only watch and hope as the others came down. I knew my slalom run was good, but with the combined you never know what will happen. It was definitely a long wait until I realized I had the gold medal".
Although Hirscher had to settle for second place for the tenth time this season, the living legend was happy with a silver medal after battling through a couple days of sickness.
"After two days lying in bed, it is pretty impressive to myself that I am on the podium in this super combined", he said. "And for sure, downhill was a very big challenge for a slalom skier, but on the other hand it was a lot of fun to do these jumps, to improve yourself, to learn a little more about downhill, and many of you know, this was already my tenth second place so far this season and always very close decisions, so it was a little bit nerve-wracking if you see crossing the finish line one hundredth of a second behind. And I exactly knew the conditions will play in our hands because the conditions were really soft already with the first number, so we knew it can be our day".
Mauro Caviezel even surprised himself with his performance, especially in the slalom portion, since he knew that many very good slalom skiers were running before him in the second run.
"It feels very good", the Swiss athlete said. "I couldn’t expect it after the downhill, so I’m just glad and really, really happy today. The difficult thing was the slalom because of the conditions and I’m not a slalom specialist. I knew that I had to go all in and now I’m really happy that it happened"-The three medalists were also the three racers with the best slalom times. Hirscher was 28th after the downhill and Caviezel was 14th.
It was the first medal for both of the Swiss skiers, who also both have never earned a podium place in the World Cup. It was Hirscher’s fifth career World Championship medal, as he now has three silvers and two golds.

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