Friday, October 30

Inhibited bastard

Stefan Luitz races to a very disappointing 14th place at the World Cup in Sölden. He had previously expressed himself in an unusually brisk manner.

Wolfgang Maier felt a little bit at the Alpine World Cup opener at the weekend like the soccer coaches are currently doing at their team’s games. “Only hand-picked spectators clapping in the stands sounded a bit bizarre in the Sölden ski arena, which is usually filled with 20,000 spectators at the Alpine start. It is “a bit of a sad mood when you know what kind of cool ski festival it has always been here,” says Maier.

Stefan Luitz was not interested in “all that trappings” at this giant slalom taking place on Sunday under stricter Corona conditions. At least that’s what he says. However, especially in the first run, it gave the impression of carving down the steep slope a little inhibited. He “just couldn’t find the easiness,” he admits. He did better, much better, in the final. “I tried again to ski normally”. He improved from 22nd to 14th place and ended up right in front of his teammate Alexander Schmid. After all: Luitz had never been so good on the World Cup slope in Sölden.

Results beyond the top ten, however, are not what Luitz claims. In the days before the kick-off, the Allgäu was surprisingly brisk for his standards and looked pretty relaxed. The statement that he wanted to “be a bit of a bastard” again, he found after a brief consideration almost a bit exaggerated. That only meant his driving style, he corrected. The caution of the 28-year-old from SC Bolsterlang can also be explained by events in the past that did not remain without traces. Two cruciate ligament tears, strange mishaps that cost him one or two successes in his early years and then finally a victory in Beaver Creek, but it was torn from him again for the time being because of an intake of oxygen that the world association FIS had banned the world -Antidoping Agency Wada, however, does not. He won first place back in court at the end of that 2018/2019 season. The hiccups had already thrown him out of step.

What Luitz had done in the past, prone to errors but also quickly, was gone. It was “a bit tough” last season, at least in his favorite giant slalom discipline. Second place in the parallel race in Alta Badia was an outlier. He noticed that he had “not yet dealt with this legacy as I would have wanted”. At the end of last winter, Luitz began to free himself, including from his own expectation of having to follow in Felix Neureuther’s footsteps. Eighth and ninth place in Hinterstoder and Garmisch-Partenkirchen “went in the right direction,” he said.

In preparation he tried again to finally leave everything behind, worked on a cheeky line, also with the help of the Super-G, in which the right timing at the start of the swing is even more important than in the giant slalom. During the few days of training he liked the second-fastest discipline – and that’s why he may want to start in one or the other Super G race this winter. Maybe it will stay with the slalom as a second mainstay. There is still a lot going on at Stefan Luitz.

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