With only one victory this season, Guilano Razzoli was not a hot favourite for the Vancouver Olympics slalom. But ultimately the Italian won gold 18 years after Alberto Tomba last won the medal for Italy.
AFP - Giuliano Razzoli of Italy stormed to a convincing win in the Olympic slalom on Saturday as the Austrian men's team were condemned to a medal-less Games for the first time in 74 years.
Razzoli clocked a combined total of 1min 39.32sec over the two runs, 0.16sec ahead of Croatia's Ivica Kostelic with Andre Myhrer of Sweden taking bronze, a further 0.28sec adrift.
The Italian, whose sole World Cup victory came at Zagreb this season, led by 0.43sec after the first run but put any nerves to one side on the second run to nail an impressive day's skiing in difficult conditions that included heavy rain, thick fog and very wet snow.
Razzoli edged Austrian Benjamin Raich into fourth place, meaning the Austrian men's team remained medal-less for the first time since 1936 when alpine skiing was first introduced at the Olympic Winter Games.
"It's a dream because I've been training a lot for this day. It's incredible," said Razzoli.
"It's been a long time coming, the last time Italy had a medal in the slalom was in 1992, and now in 2010, it's fantastic."
The Italian who won silver at the Albertville Games was Alberto Tomba, who is now Razzoli's coach.
"It's an amazing day," Tomba said. "He won a gold medal and it's great.
"He lives close to my house. He was first in Zagreb, then first in Kranjsak Gora but went out in the second run.
"So he came here in great shape. I told him to keep quiet and keep focused.
"Watching the slalom in the finish area is unbelieveable. Now I can imagine what it's like for parents. He's like a son to me."
Kostelic, who also claimed silver in the super-combined, said the snow conditions had been to his liking.
"I really like to ski in these conditions," he said. "It's spring snow, but we always train in this kind of weather.
"This result means, realistically speaking, that I had two chances for medal in the super-combined and slalom and I took both."
Myhrer, who finished fourth in the slalom at the Turin Games four years ago, said: "The slope was okay, but there was a track and I tried to stay in it.
"I'm really happy with the medal. It has been a huge goal for me, my whole life to take an Olympic medal, and it's an amazing feeling to get one."
With Raich in fourth at 0.49sec, team-mate Marcel Hirscher was next at 0.49sec.
"That's very disappointing for our team but we have to handle it. It's not easy," Raich said of the men's team flop.
"It's hard to say (why the team have failed). We have trained very well and we were prepared, so that was not the problem. It was close."
Slovenian Mitja Valencic, who was second after the first run, lost his speed in mid-course and finished in sixth at 1.03sec.
In poor visibility and early heavy rain, the course claimed a number of high-profile casualties, notably Austria's reigning world champion Manfred Pranger and American Bode Miller among 47 who did not finish the first leg.
But Miller, who has won super-combined gold, super-G silver and downhill bronze here, said he was "100 percent pleased. It couldn't be better."
Date created : 2010-02-28