This slalom rejection has ruined the german ski team’s anticipation of the upcoming classic weeks and the countdown to the olympics for the time being.
With the worst result in a gate race in almost six years, it became clear in zagreb where the team stands without felix neureuther, who is missing due to cruciate ligament surgery. "We will get used to the fact that without our top athletes we are a long way from the absolute top of the world," alpine boss wolfgang maier summed up ruthlessly in croatia.
The experienced sports director was served by the thursday evening on the barenberg, which was even more frustrating than the already unsatisfactory performance of the ladies on tuesday. Linus straber as the only and best german in 27th place – the last time the DSV technicians were worse in a slalom was in january 2012 in schladming, when no one even made it into the points.
In the first frustration, maier asked existential questions. "Actually you have to start again with a new construction, with people for the next three, four years. You have to go through it now," said the experienced functionary. That the team has already written off the upcoming slaloms in january, among others in wengen, kitzbuhel and schladming, after this disgrace, was not claimed openly by anyone.
Hope for short-term improvement was the responsible persons in the federation after zagreb, where the austrian marcel hirscher celebrated his 50th birthday. Celebrated his world cup victory, but did not initially. "Hope is a stupid action, it’s useless," said maier. "You can only look to keep going, don’t let the result completely upset you, and keep your head up."
The times with regular top-ten or even top-fun finishes are over for the time being without neureuther – and giant slalom ace stefan luitz, who also injured his cruciate ligament. "We have to regroup and bake much smaller bread," said maier. "Nobody needs to expect to go from zero to one hundred. We have had too much bloodletting."The fact that fritz dopfer is racing again after a year’s break due to a fractured lower leg, but is still far away from podium form, both physically and mentally, is an aggravating factor in this situation.
"I don’t think he skied that badly," said men’s national coach mathias berthold about the 2015 world championship runner-up, who faded in the second run in zagreb. However, the coach does not want to conceal dopfer’s shortcomings. "He has to get the certainty that he can slalom properly."Also because of the training backlog of his sensitive protege berthold asked for more time: "there you have to be patient. I am patient."
Dopfer and straber have risen after the failures in the team to technical leaders against will. But the DSV is especially worried about straber – the man from munich can’t bring his potential, which he showed with third place in the city event in oslo, to the skis in the special slaloms. And time is running out for the 25-year-old to qualify for the olympics in south korea.
At least the races in adelboden will take place on saturday and sunday, although the access road was heavily damaged after a landslide on thursday. So the next chance to do better is coming quickly for the german technical masters.