Carlo Janka became the new giant slalom world champion on Friday, ahead of Austrian favourite, reigning Olympic champion Benjamin Raich. The 22-year-old Swiss champion has already won a downhill bronze medal at Val d'Isère.
REUTERS - Benjamin Raich won his 13th medal at a major event on Friday the 13th, ending Austria's barren run at in the men's competition at the world championships.
Raich made sure his luck did not run out as he handed his ski-mad nation their first medal, a silver, after four men's events at the Val d'Isere championships.
"It was a very tough situation, a bit of a crisis," Raich, the giant slalom silver-medallist behind Swiss Carlo Janka, told reporters.
"Our fans wanted to see medals and they were not very happy with our results. With this medal I'm confident that things will now go much better on Sunday," Raich said.
After dismal results in the speed events and the super-combined, the Austrian men had just the giant slalom and Sunday's slalom to escape the embarrassment of leaving world championships empty-handed for the first time.
The Austrians can now hope for a grand finale as along with slalom Olympic champion Raich, they will also be counting on Reinfried Herbst and Manfred Pranger to add to the medal haul.
"We have a really good team in slalom with very strong skiers like Herbst and Pranger. As for me, I had a very good start to the season and then it didn't go so well but I have my medal now and it eases the pressure a lot," Raich said.
The Austrian said he had been helped by the presence in the finish area of his girlfriend Marlies Schild, one of the world's leading slalom specialists, currently nursing a double leg fracture.
"She knows me so well and she knows skiing so well that she only needs a few words to give me confidence," Raich said.
It was not enough to beat newcomer Janka, who impressed Raich a lot: "I did not have two perfect runs but I did not make any mistake and yet I found myself 0.70 seconds down," he said. "It speaks for itself."
Date created : 2009-02-13