Yesterday we reported on the Snow Queen Trophy women’s slalom race held near Zagreb, on Sljeme hill just north of the city. On Sunday, the men’s slalom race was held, in which Frenchman Clement Noel managed to win, while Croatian skiers managed to get just one top-30 finish.
The race was held in the afternoon, as it is one of the nighttime races in the calendar of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom races. In the first run, the Swiss skier Ramon Zenhaeursen took first place, after he went down the slope first, with the no. 1 bib. Michael Matt of Germany, with bib 4, was placed second, while the third-place finish surprisingly went to Linus Strasser, who started the race with the bib number 31.
The Croatian skiers didn’t really impress anyone in the first run: the best result was achieved by Istok Rodeš, who was 19th and who was the only Croatian to qualify for the second run. Matej Vidović, as well as Elias and Samuel Kolega didn’t finish the first run, while Leon Nikić and Filip Zubčić got the positions 39 and 40 (out of 45 finishers). The biggest controversy of the first run was Alexis Pinturault’s run. It seemed as if he had made a disqualifying mistake, however, he completed the race – and was quickly disqualified right after it. However, after the French delegation complained, his race was deemed to have not been incorrect, so his result was re-instated, and he finished the first run 14th.
In the end, French skier Clement Noel, fourth in the first run, won with 0.07 seconds in front of the leader from the first run, Zenhaeursen. Young Italian skier Alex Vintazer, eighth in the first run was third total, 0.29 seconds behind the winner. Croatian Istok Rodeš was 25th, with the final time of 1:58.78, 1.64 seconds behind the winner. Michael Matt and Linus Strasser weren’t able to repeat their great performances in the second run: Matt was the only skier unable to finish it, while Strasser was 8th total.
Former Croatian skier Ivica Kostelić, overall World Cup title winner in 2011, complained after the first run of the Snow Queen Trophy that the setup of the race was too simple and easy, as if it was made for the children’s race and not the World Cup where the elite skiers compete against each other.