Herbst puts Austria back on top in Schladming
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Austria's Reinfried Herbst stormed to victory in Schladming's World Cup slalom, a few days after Frenchmen Julien Lizeroux and Jean-Baptiste Grange achieved a stunning one-two in Kitzbuhel. Neither finished Tuesday's race.
Reuters - Reinfried Herbst won his second slalom of the World Cup season at home in Schladming on Tuesday, beating Manfred Pranger for the Austrian pair's third one-two of the winter.
Winner in the Swiss resort of Adelboden this month, Herbst won the fifth victory of his career in impressive style, clocking the fastest times in both runs to triumph in one minute 37.32 seconds.
Frustrated in Kitzbuehel on Sunday when he missed a gate as he was heading for victory, Herbst outclassed the field in the pouring snow to finish 1.16 seconds of Pranger.
Pranger, winner of the floodlit slalom classic in 2005, beat Herbst in Wengen two weeks ago but there was no repeat.
It was the third successive victory by an Austrian in Schladming in front of nearly 50,000 fans.
"It's the dream of every Austrian skier to win this and I really owed it to my fans to do it after coming so close in Kitzbuehel," Herbst told reporters.
"I was like in a trance and I'm surprised myself how neatly I won," added Herbst, who jumped into the snow in joy after the race.
"I was nervous at the start but we again showed today that we have the best team in slalom this season," Pranger said.
There was some disappointment for the home crowd as local favourite Benny Raich failed to complete his second run and Croat Ivica Kostelic took third place, 0.07 behind Pranger.
Kostelic leads Raich by 75 points in the World Cup overall standings.
"It's not totally unrealistic. If there is a chance to seize, I will take it," said the Croatian, who would become the first skier from his country to conquer the men's overall crystal globe, a trophy his sister Janica won three times.
"The Austrians were unbeatable today and I was in two minds about what to do, secure points or go for it in the second leg. I think my run was a fine balance," he said.
Kostelic, 29, confirmed he would compete in all events at the world championships in Val d'Isere next week with his main focus on the slalom and the super-combined.
The men's circuit moves to Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the weekend for a downhill and a slalom, the last events before the world championships.
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