MAR 15, 2021
Cool as ice on the race course, a gentleman off skis – modest, friendly, smart. In the winter following his comeback (torn ACL), Marco Schwarz cracked the jackpot and gave the skiing world an idea of what to expect of him in the future: he’s the World champion in the Combination, has won bronze in the World Champs’ GS; and now, after an outstanding season and despite severe back problems, he skied solidly in Kranjska Gora, locking in the Slalom crystal globe. An impressive feat, however: he is not performing at his peak yet. While "Blacky" can head to the Finals in Lenzerheide all relaxed, teammates Mikaela Shiffrin and Sofia Goggia are still involved in a thrilling race for crystal globes – hopefully with a happy ending …
Yeah, it’s a wrap! Marco Schwarz is this season’s Slalom World Cup winner! To fully understand what it means to win the World Cup in the discipline with the highest competition and the greatest risk of DNF let’s look at some stats: "Blacky" is only the eighth Austrian ski racer in history to call a Slalom crystal globe his own. Marco is an athlete without airs and graces, with little interest in stardom – even after a mega season like this past one. He doesn't talk about the fact that nobody believed he’d be able to start in Kranjska Gora with his back pain, and that he had to see his physio right after warming up to be able to even compete. Instead, he says, humbly and very sportsmanlike: "I simply wasn’t able to do more today."
All he needed was 7 th place to make his dream come true. Winning the Slalom World Cup is a tough game for any professional slalom racer. Why is that? Christian Höflehner, General Race Manager at Atomic, clarifies: “It’s wrong to think that the most consistent athlete wins the globe. The most consistent must also be the fastest – and this year that was Blacky.” Marco Schwarz has made it onto the podium in seven Slaloms this winter, he won Adelboden and Schladming. In view of this achievement it’s not difficult to come to terms with his DNF in the World Champs’ Slalom– his favorite dicipline and the one in which he was sort of expected to claim his third medal (after winning gold in the Combination and bronze in the GS). “He could become a superstar,” Christian Höflehner alludes to the future: “Just like he has established the Giant Slalom as his second strong discipline this year, he will progress in the speed area, too. He's an amazingly complete skier, of a quality that is rare."
MIKAELA’S & SOFIA’S THRILLING RACE: THE FINAL SCORE IS TALLIED AT THE END
Marco Schwarz can now focus on therapy for his back and be pretty relaxed about the World Cup Finals. Mikaela Shiffrin and Sofia Goggia, by contrast, still play leading roles in a true ski thriller titled “The final score is tallied at the end”. Having recovered from a broken tibia, Goggia will give a surprising speed comeback in Lenzerheide. Up until her injury just a few days before the World Cup in Cortina, on home turf, Sofia had laid an incredibly solid basis for winning the Downhill crystal globe with four back-to-back Downhill victories. Despite the forced break she is still 70 points ahead. "I think everyone within the scene would be happy for her to win this globe, knowing that she had to sit out the World Championships while being in such top shape", says Christian Höflehner. Speed queen Sofia has already proven several times that she can come back at the highest level after injuries.
The same goes for Mikaela Shiffrin. Placing 3rd and 2nd in Are (on her 26th birthday!) she was able to close the gap to 37 points in the Slalom World Cup. For the showdown in Lenzerheide, her exceptional career’s routine plays to her – however: even if she wins, it’s not 100 percent certain that she will take the Slalom globe home. Global Race Manager Höflehner: “Exciting! Things will be settled at the end, and Mikaela has proven several times before that she can outdo herself in stressful situations like that."