Surprise gold for Myhrer as favourites fade in men’s slalom
Andre Myhrer of Sweden collected a surprise gold at PyeongChang 2018 after pre-event favourites Marcel Hirscher (AUT) and Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) stumbled in the Alpine skiing men’s slalom competition at the Jeongseon Alpine Centre on Thursday 22 February.
Hirscher, aiming for his third gold medal of PyeongChang 2018, lost control on his first run and failed to complete the course. The new race favourite in the Austrian’s absence, Kristoffersen led the competition at the halfway stage in a time of 47.72 seconds, with the 35-year-old Myhrer 0.21 behind in second.
The Swede produced a steady second run to take the lead and set an overall target of one minute, 38.99 seconds for the Norwegian, whose hopes evaporated when he failed to negotiate a gate only seconds into his run.
Ramon Zenhaeusern of Switzerland climbed up from ninth-fastest at the halfway stage to claim a surprise silver behind Myhrer, while Austria’s Michael Matt also produced the second run of his life, recovering from 12th place after the first leg to claim the bronze. The Austrian took his family’s collection of Olympic medals to three, with brothers Mario and Andreas having respectively won slalom gold at Sochi 2014 and freestyle men’s ski cross silver at Vancouver 2010.
A slalom bronze medallist at Vancouver 2010, Myhrer is the second oldest Olympic Alpine skiing gold medallist of all time. At 35 years and 42 days, he is just 16 days younger than Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, winner of the men’s downhill on 15 February. He is also only the second Swede to land an Alpine skiing gold, after the great Ingemar Stenmark, who won the slalom and giant slalom at Lake Placid 1980.
“It means everything,” said the new Olympic champion, who is also Sweden’s oldest Winter Games gold medallist. “I’ve been training my whole life for a moment like this. I took a bronze at Vancouver 2010, but I’ve always dreamed about the gold medal and now it’s a reality. I’m totally blown away. I had a really good first run. I knew it was going to be a battle in the second. I just tried to force everything I had and luckily it was enough to go home with the gold.”
Reacting to his silver, Zenhaeusern said: “It’s just crazy. It’s like a dream. It hasn’t sunk in yet and I think it will be some days before it does. It’s unbelievable.”
Matt was equally delighted with his bronze: “Unbelievable! I was almost lying down in this finish area, not even watching half of the racers who had still to go. Mario has his gold medal from Sochi, my other brother Andreas has his silver medal from Vancouver and now I have a bronze. They watched it from home.
“He (Mario) called me after the first run. It’s not a good sign when he calls me. It’s always when I’m slow in the first run, but it helped. He said, ‘It didn’t look good, didn’t look smooth’. It’s not the way I can ski, so we changed it a little bit.”