In the giant slalom, of all things, his problem discipline this season, Manuel Feller took home his fourth podium place of the season in Schladming. After taking the lead at half time, he slipped back to second position, only five hundredths of a second made the difference. “He’s having a mega season, unbelievable,” enthused ÖSV head coach Marko Pfeifer on Tuesday. “I don’t know how he does it, but it doesn’t matter.” Marco Odermatt once again underlined his top class.
- more on the subject: Odermatt wins giant slalom in Schladming ahead of Feller
The Swiss smashed the fastest time in the decision and flew from eleventh place to his eighth giant slalom victory in the World Cup in a row. Only the Swede Ingemar Stenmark, who won 14 races in the discipline between 1978 and 1980, can boast a longer series of victories. “It’s crazy. I hoped so, but didn’t really believe in it anymore after the first run,” said Odermatt and summarized: “A very cool premiere for me here at the Night Race.”
Not everything was given
A slap in the face for the competition was, of course, his announcement after the work was done that he hadn’t given it his all in the final. “The tactic was not to go absolutely full attack,” he said. “I really wanted to stay on the line, ski well, ski smoothly and just not with a full fight.” Nevertheless, Odermatt was almost half a second ahead of the second fastest runner, Joan Verdu from Andorra. He took nine tenths or more from everyone else.
Unimpressed by this, Feller was only slightly annoyed about the missed chance to win. “I didn’t make full use of it, but it’s still a great result,” said the Tyrolean, who is currently skipping giant slalom training. “When I train, I’m usually no longer fit on race day,” he explained. “Sometimes you just have to accept certain things and then still make the best of them.” That’s what he’s doing at the moment.
“For Manu, body and mind are important”
“The last training session was, so to speak, the race in Adelboden. That’s sensational,” noted Pfeifer. “But Manu works like that. Body and mind are always important to him,” the head supervisor continued. And at the moment the 31-year-old is “certainly mentally, physically and skiing at the highest level he has ever been in his career.” The podium is particularly good after the setback with fourth place in the Kitzbühel Slalom. “Manuel wasn’t rewarded there, now he’s rewarded in the giant slalom.”
Pfeifer also highlighted the very challenging conditions. “In the first round it was very warm, the conditions were on the softer side, then it completely changed to ice.” The other ÖSV starters – Raphael Haaser 14th, Stefan Brennsteiner 15th – didn’t cope well with it, unlike Feller. “Brennsteiner can do more, has to do more, Haaser was okay,” said Pfeifer. “I’m not happy with the others, that wasn’t enough. You have to analyze why one or the other didn’t qualify.”
Sometimes the factor of fatigue after strenuous days may also have played a role for the technology specialists. “It’s getting slow now. The Kitzbühel week was extremely strenuous,” said Feller, who only arrived back at the team hotel around midnight. He is already looking forward to the ten day break from racing after the slalom night race on Wednesday. “Then I have a little bit to catch up on when it comes to celebrating. There hasn’t been much going on so far.”
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