Schwarz looks to wrap up Cortina worlds with third medal in men's slalom
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Cortina d'Ampezzo (Italy) (AFP) –
Marco Schwarz has been one of the outstanding performers at the world ski championships and the Austrian will bid to sign off with another gold in Sunday's slalom, the final event in Cortina d'Ampezzo.
In an action-filled 10 days, Schwarz won gold in the alpine combined before claiming a surprise bronze in Friday's giant slalom, his first ever podium in the discipline.
Much like unheralded Italian Luca De Aliprandini, who won GS silver behind winner Mathieu Faivre of France, Schwarz is better known for his slalom skills.
"I went into the race relaxed," Schwarz said of his GS showing.
"Obviously, on Sunday the slalom will be the big challenge, but to go into Sunday with two medals already makes me extremely happy."
Schwarz's former teammate Marcel Hirscher was the undisputed king of slalom, with three world titles before he retired in 2019 at the relatively tender age of 30.
Schwarz claimed world bronze in Are two years ago, and the sole racer to have won a world title present on Sunday will be French veteran Jean-Baptiste Grange.
Grange, 36, won golds in 2011 and 2015, and is still capable of being a podium contender.
Grange's teammate Clement Noel goes into the slalom as the number 2 on the World Cup circuit.
His gung-ho style brought him victory in Chamonix and second in Flachau, but he has also notched three DNFs (did not finish).
"We're not going to hide that it's the biggest race of the season," Noel said.
"It's what makes it special. We know that it's the year's big event. We are keener than ever to succeed, it's extra motivation."
- Pinturault seeks redemption -
The France team can also count on Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Alexis Pinturault, who will be seeking to bounce back from his exit on the second run of the giant slalom after having set the fastest first leg.
"We're going to focus totally on the slalom," Pinturault said after the GS.
"Sunday is another race, a race where I am an outsider.
"There are possibilities, but this discipline has a loaded field."
Switzerland have not claimed the world slalom title in 71 years, but have a trio of racers -- Loic Meillard, Daniel Yule and Ramon Zenhaeusern -- capable of challenging the best.
Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, who has 23 World Cup wins including 19 in slalom -- most recently winning in Chamonix and Madonna di Campiglio -- said he liked the look of the Druscie slalom course.
"It looks really steep, the slalom hill," said Kristoffersen, who won Olympic bronze at the 2014 Sochi Games.
"It looks even from the top to the finish, not icy, not too aggressive and not salt yet, from what I saw yesterday.
"I think it's going to be salt on Sunday, and it's steep the whole way so I think it's a really nice slalom hill."
© 2021 AFP