Skiing: Kostelic's third straight win equals Stenmark feat

 

Wengen

Ivica Kostelic proved the master of Wengen yet again yesterday, winning a World Cup slalom to close the gap on overall leader Marcel Hirscher.

Kostelic took full advantage after Hirscher was disqualified in the first run, and was almost flawless in the second leg. He finished with a combined two-run time of one minute, 45.67 seconds to beat Andre Myhrer of Sweden by 0.85 seconds; Fritz Dopfer of Germany was third, 0.88 behind Kostelic.

The 32-year-old Croatian has now won five of the last seven World Cup events raced at the storied Swiss venue since January 2010.

"I guess I have something with this mountain like no other," said Kostelic, whose third straight win in the Wengen slalom matched Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark (1975-77). "To find yourself in the same sentence as Ingemar Stenmark is the greatest honour. Unlike many other racers I really am following the history of skiing. They were legends for me."

Kostelic's 22nd career World Cup victory also completed his Wengen weekend double of slalom and super-combined for the second time. His performance was roared on by hundreds of flag-waving Croatians among the 8,000 spectators, one lighting a red smoke flare in celebration. "It gave me a warm feeling around my heart," Kostelic said.

Myhrer, now twice a runner-up to Kostelic here, said he believed his leading time could hold up against his good friend, who had been third fastest in the morning run. "I don't know what I should do to beat him. He totally crushed it down there," Myhrer said.

Kostelic, the defending overall champion, earned 100 World Cup points and cut Hirscher's lead to 30. He also extended his lead over Hirscher in the slalom standings to 125 points.

Hirscher had been unbeaten in 2012, winning his last three races. But he was disqualified after the first run – when he would have been fastest by 0.77 – because he straddled a gate.

"It happens. What should I say? I skied an awesome run," Hirscher said. "Everybody can see that I am really, really fast. And that is pretty cool. I have to cancel this race out of my mind."

Hirscher is competing only in slalom and giant slalom races this season, and his failure to score points yesterday will not alter his plan to skip the super-G race on Friday at Kitzbühel, Austria, which Kostelic won last year.

Bode Miller was the only American of six to complete the first run. However, Miller did not qualify for a second run after his time trailed first-run leader Mario Matt of Austria by 2.39 and he finished outside the top 30.

Ted Ligety, who was hoping to rise from fourth in the overall standings, skied out at the fourth gate.

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