A little over a week after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck central Croatia, Germany's Linus Strasser grabbed a sensational career-first slalom victory, with the Austrian duo of Manny Feller and Marco Schwarz rounding out the podium in second and third.
The organizing committee worked tirelessly to make the Snow Queen Trophy slalom races happen, despite an earthquake and warm temperatures. The course crew watered and salted the track, but the soft conditions and big ruts made it a challenge for the highter bibs,
It was Strasser’s first career slalom victory and he came to the podium with tears of joy in his eyes as he was crowned the Snow King. It was the first time ever that a German claimed the victory in Zagreb and the first non-parallel race podium for him.
It was a fairy tale second run for Strasser, who sat in eighth place nearly a second off the pace from first-run leader Clement Noel (FRA) and looked to be well out of contenttion for a podium, much less a victory.
But Noel and the rest of the first-run leaders struggled to hang onto their leads in the second run as most lost a lot of time in the bottom third of course. Noel closed the race in seventh place.
A trio of Austrians finished behind Strasser as Manuel Feller was the only racer to hold his position in the second run, finishing 0.10 seconds behind Strasser, good for second place, where he also ended in the first run. Feller’s second-place was enough for him to hold onto the lead in the slalom World Cup standings.
Feller’s teammate Marco Schwarz improved his standing by one place to round out the podium in third place 0-16 behind. Meanwhile Michael Matt turned in an amazing second-run performance climbing 22 places to end in fourth place.
Frenchman Clement Noel held the lead after the first run finishing 0.36 ahead of Sebastian Foss-Solevaag (NOR). Both finished well out of podium range.
“Normally you have a big crowd here cheering you on, but today it was just the ski family. I’m happy to win my first slalom race, but it was strange not to be able to share it with the public,” said Strasser after the race.