Kostelic wins slalom at World Cup

Brian Homewood, REUTERS

, Last Updated: 2:48 PM ET

LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland - Overall World Cup winner Ivica Kostelic added the slalom title to his collection on Saturday, ending what he said had turned into a masochistic exercise.

Kostelic, who won the slalom title in 2002 and was world champion in the same discipline in 2003, said his career since then had become a series of frustrating near misses.

“Either I failed to finish a race, or I missed a race altogether; it was turning into a masochistic exercise,” he told reporters in typically philosophical style.

“So last year, at the end of the season, I sat in the van with my father and we decided that from then on I would train slalom every day, no matter what other discipline I was training.

“There hasn’t been a day of preparation this year when I haven’t trained slalom. I trained it more than anyone and I fully deserve this.

“Other skiers are good on some courses, in certain conditions, but I have done it over five months,” he added.

The Croatian, who wrapped up the overall title in Kvitfjell last week, finished 18th in difficult conditions in Saturday’s final race and failed to score any points, but his rivals could not take advantage of the situation.

Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, his nearest challenger, failed to complete the first leg after missing a gate while Andre Myhrer’s sixth place was not enough for the Swede to seize the lead.

Kostelic ended with 478 points to Grange’s 442 and Myhrer’s 423.

Giuliano Razzoli of Italy won the race while Austria’s Mario Matt was second, having led after the first leg. Germany’s Felix Neureuther was third.

NO BATTERIES

The racers had to contend with a rutty course as well as fog and wet snow.

“I skied like an Energizer bunny without the batteries,” said Kostelic, exhausted after a season in which he has competed in all five disciplines.

The Croatian, whose sister Janica won three overall women’s World Cup titles, said his family could be an inspiration to those outside the mainstream skiing regions.

“It’s really hard coming from Zagreb, so far from the skiing circuit. Skiing was just a recreational sport in Croatia before Janica’s days.

“To succeed in skiing, you need money and snow. We had these and I think it’s a good message for smaller nations. Anyone can do well in a sport, no matter how distant it seems.

Kostelic, awarded both trophies in a ceremony on the final day of the season, paid tribute to his sister, who now works as his assistant.

“Janica was here today carrying my jackets around for me and never once suggested it was beneath her.

“Of all the champions we have seen today, none come close to her.”


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