Austria’s Philip Hoffmann cited his tight technique and a burning desire to match the exploits of his female teammates as the reasons why he dominated the men’s giant slalom on Monday.
The 17-year-old appeared utterly untroubled by the hard, icy conditions at Les Diablerets Alpine Centre, comfortably posting the fastest time in both runs to take gold in two minutes, 6.31 seconds.
The joint men’s combined gold medal winners, Mikkel Remsoey (NOR) and Auguste Aulnette (FRA), plus the Super-G silver medallist Rok Aznoh (SLO) were among the 24 skiers who failed to finish.
“The harder the better for me,” said Hoffmann, who left Swiss pair Sandro Zurbruegg and Luc Roduit trailing in silver and bronze medal positions respectively. “The hard conditions here mean you have to have good technique. This hill suits me very well.
“I had a good slalom in the combined [Hoffmann posted the third fastest time] so I was very confident about this giant slalom.”
Confidence and the motivation of living up to the standards set by the Austrian women’s team proved a potent combination.
“Amanda [Salzgeber] winning two medals [gold in the combined and bronze in the giant slalom] for the girls gave me a bit extra,” Hoffmann said. “It meant it was time for the boys to do something.”
Despite having a healthy halfway lead of 0.69 seconds, Hoffmann pointed to mistakes made by his five closest challengers after the first run as reasons why he did not hold back in the afternoon.
“I took calculated risks because you could see any mistakes, even small ones, cost you time,” he said. “I had to still go for it.”
Finishing significantly behind the Austrian did not worry Zurbruegg and Roduit unduly, with the pair revelling in winning Switzerland’s fifth and sixth Alpine medals of the Games. It is fast turning into a party on the slopes for the host nation.
“It’s been an incredible week so far,” said Roduit, who also won bronze in the men’s Super-G. “We were hoping for this. Of course, we have been inspired by what Amelie [Klopfenstein, gold medallist in the women’s Super-G and giant slalom, and bronze medallist in the combined] has done.”
Roduit injured his arm in training ahead of the slalom leg of the combined but back to full fitness he had the confidence to go at full throttle in the second run, jumping up from eighth to third. Old friend Zurbruegg went one better in both the morning and afternoon.
“It was full attack for the second run,” Zurbruegg said. “I grew up dreaming of being a ski racer and normally this weekend [just passed] I would have been watching the World Cup in Adelboden, which is just 20 minutes from my house, and now I have won a Youth Olympic silver medal. It’s inspiring.”