The ski weekend in Kitzbühel turns into a spectacle. Thomas Dreßen says hello, Cyprien Sarrazin drives like he’s from another planet. A slalom ace provides the German highlight.
Thomas Dreßen said hello on the shoulders of his colleagues, Linus Straßer raced to the greatest success of his career in the slalom. On a breathtaking ski weekend in Kitzbühel, two German athletes created emotional highlights and amazed even the Terminator.
In front of tens of thousands of fans, friends, relatives and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Straßer was unbeatable. After his success, with tears in his eyes, he knelt in the snow on the famous Ganslern slope, where he once learned to ski as a child and was now finally able to celebrate.
“I’m skiing really well right now,” said the 31-year-old after his coup. “My goal was to take a chamois home with me.” The TSV 1860 Munich athlete was still missing the coveted Kitzbühel trophy – unlike his teammate Dreßen, who won the Streif downhill in 2018 and was now saying goodbye. One day after the emotional farewell, Dreßen was in the stadium as a noble fan and was happy with Straßer. “It’s crazy that Linus pushed it down like that,” said Dreßen and admitted: “I was much more nervous than I ever was.”
“Balm for every wound”
With a phenomenal second round, Straßer fought his way from fourth to first place. He relegated the half-time leader Kristoffer Jakobsen from Sweden (+0.14 seconds) and the Swiss Daniel Yule (+0.20) to the other places. In front of his wife and little daughter, the father secured his third World Cup victory in slalom. It was by far his most important – the last German slalom champion from Kitzbühel to date was Felix Neureuther in 2014.
Straßer’s success was extremely important for the German men, who were disappointing this winter. Alpine boss Wolfgang Maier took a load off his heart. “You need a sign of life every now and then, and if you win the Kitzbühel slalom, then that’s THE slalom, and that helps the whole team a little,” he said. “We’ve really taken a beating lately. That’s balm for every wound. It’s a dream for us that we have a winner here again.”
Bubbly shower for Dreßen
The DSV team was similarly euphoric in 2018 when Dreßen won the downhill and became one of the world’s best in the premier discipline. The Germans are currently a long way from there, but instead Cyprien Sarrazin from France is astonishing the scene as this year’s Streif double champion. But Dreßen was also carried on the shoulders and cheered by 45,000 fans on Saturday at the Hahnenkamm highlight.
“That was the perfect day for me,” said Dreßen after the farewell ride, for which there was a small bubbly shower at the finish line. Lifted up by the veterans Romed Baumann and Dominik Paris, the Upper Bavarian once again enjoyed the applause and ovations, including from Hollywood star Schwarzenegger. “That was just awesome.”
Exactly six years to the day after his triumph on the Streif, Dreßen ended the ski racing chapter on Saturday. After many injuries and operations, it was no longer sensible for the 30-year-old to suffer any longer. But the SC Mittenwald athlete didn’t want any trouble in the Tyrolean ski mecca in the bright sunshine.
Tears of joy instead of anger
“The joy outweighs it,” he said. “It was always clear to me that I wanted to have a nice ride and have fun again. It worked out exactly how I imagined it would. I didn’t think it would be so intense.” A few tears of joy could be seen in Dreßen’s eyes, and he threw his arms around the necks of friends and relatives when he reached the finish line.
There were souvenir photos with wife Birgit and daughter Elena on the red winner’s chair, which the Upper Bavarian was allowed to climb in four more races after his Kitzbühel coup in 2018. No German has won more World Cup downhill races than Dreßen – the gap he leaves behind is huge. There was no top ten result for the German Ski Association (DSV) on the two runs on the Hahnenkamm.
In Garmisch as a ski pensioner
Dreßen is now looking forward to spending his free time at home with his little family. “I have absolutely no plan what I’m going to do now,” he announced. He will be attending the home World Cup next weekend in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with the two Super-Gs for the first time as a retired skier.
The ski world is then looking forward to the next appearance of the French high-flyer Sarrazin, who amazed with his double victory in Kitzbühel and even beat the supposedly unbeatable World Cup dominator Marco Odermatt by almost a second. The Swiss turned out to be a fair loser: together – and with their upper bodies free – the two top athletes celebrated in a pub in Kitzbühel on Saturday evening.
Sarrazin’s moon landing
“He walked on the moon,” was the headline in the French sports newspaper “L’Équipe” after Sarrazin’s breathtaking, fabulous ride based on Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. “Skiing from another planet,” said DSV athlete Andreas Sander.
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