Strasser picks up win in Schladming

Coming so soon after the Kitzbühel weekend, Schladming is always a high octane affair. This year was no different as Linus Strasser emerged from the race as the victor with Atle Lie McGrath runner up and Manuel Feller restoring Austrian pride in taking third. Henrik Kristoffersen and Alex Vinatzer rounded out the top five.

With so much riding on the race, the sub plots were as fascinating as the racing was. Austrian pride took a battering as only two of the their racers made it into the second run and neither in the top 25! How things changed at the end of the race as Feller made the most of his early start number to post a very compelling time that caused the rest of the field to attack and over stretch themselves in search of the lead.

With final decisions for the Italian Slalom team also being declared after the race, five Italians made it in to the second run.

There seems to be a habit of early starters on the second run making a big charge to the top: Braathen did it in Wengen to take the win and Feller going third on the second run, almost did it as well. Feller posted the fastest time on the second run to hold the lead until McGrath came down with seven to go.

McGrath was in tears when he realised that he was assured of a podium place, his first one on the World Cup.

It was Linus Strasser just two racers later that took the lead and with no racer from Germany having won the Night Slalom in Schladming since 1990, the pressure on Strasser to stay at the front was intense.

The final four saw both joint third racers, Braathen and Clement Noel slip down the standings. Razzoli, the 2010 Olympic Champion that straddled and this left Kristoffer Jakobsen in the start gate with the ski racing world watching. With 12 of the last 24 races at Schladming having been won by the first run leader, the odds on him winning were even.

With the course having started to rut up early on, Jakobsen did not stay in the course long as he straddled the third gate.

Strasser had the biggest grin in Styria when he saw this and the pressure on the Austrian team to get a podium was lifted with Feller having lived up to the requirement of a big second run.

As for the Quinn Estates racers, Laurie Taylor did not qualify from the first run finishing win 36th but Dave Ryding made it into the second run in 15th with Billy Major in 25th for his first World Cup second run.

Major put in a solid second run. He chased the result, stayed in and held on to place joint 18th to give three Slalom racers points on the board before they head off to Beijing.

For Ryding the energy of replying to all the media requests following his super human exploits in Kitzbühel overcame him. Maybe this was the time that GB Snowsport should have taken over the media questions for him. He admitted to being slightly drained coming into the race. Ryding finished in 20th spot.

Braathen still leads the Slalom standings.

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