Strolz wins Alpine Combined

What a year it has been for Johannes Strolz: From been told he could train with the Austrian team but would haver topsy his own way to winning his first Worlds Cup race and now winning the Olympic Alpine Combined title. The Austrian overcame a deficit of three quarters of a second to to first run, the downhill, to Aleksander Aamodt Kilde to win Gold with Canada's James 'Jack' Crawford taking the bronze. The top five were rounded out by Justin Murisier and Marco Schwarz. Ireland's Jack Gower held on to take 12th place overall.

With none of the speed racers having taken a commanding lead from the downhill, Kilde just managed to stay ahead of Crawford by extending his 0.02 advantage into a 0.09 lead after the two had got down. From there it was how the challenge of the slalom skiers would cope.

Strolz was the first and knowing that he had his compatriot Marco Schwarz just behind him, Strolz attacked and went ahead of the Norwegian.

Schwarz, so imperious last season yet since getting injured after Sölden in November, Schwarz has been a shadow of his former self with just one top ten result, in Giant Slalom in Adelboden. Strolz is brimming with confidence after winning the race in Adelboden from bib 38. This secured him his ticket to Beijing and the rest is history.

With the Alpine Combined start list for the slalom leg going Ian the order the racers finished the speed leg, once Schwarz had dropped out of the reckoning, the challenge of Pinturault, Meillard, Aerni and Philip, all recognised slalom racers, all ended in them skiing out.

For the slalom racers it was a case of having to give their all or bust.

Ireland's Jack Gower posted a very creditable 12th place finish after having been in 14th from the downhill leg.

Gower had said after the Downhill "This track is brilliant, with all the slipping it’s getting a bit bumpier, a little bit icier and a little faster which suits me. I had too many mistakes in that run to really be as competitive as I want. And at the same time. But there was some decent skiing and something I can take away from that. I’m in a pretty good position for the second run, so now just stay focused and get ready for that."

This was Ireland’s best Alpine Skiing result ever; a Winter Olympic result only bettered by Lord Clifton Wrottesley who finished fourth in the Skeleton in 2002.

Gower reflected: “Twelfth at the Olympics, I mean that’s crazy – , to get twelfth is… what can I say, it’s great.

“As an athlete you always want a little more. The downhill I had some really good sections and some slower sections, and the slalom was a real battle, so I would love to have done better. But at the same time 12th in the Olympics in such a competitive sport is huge, and I feel so grateful that I have had such huge support.”

Not having trained much Slalom, Gower had mentioned before the race that he hoped he could secure a top 20, to finish 12th he will have been delighted with.

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