Luitz in fourth place after oxygen turmoil: “back on course”

Luitz in fourth place after oxygen turmoil: 'back on course'

Stefan luitz raised his fist in the air in relief at the finish line, then immediately gave his girlfriend a little kiss. After turbulent and grueling days, the skier was as happy about his fourth place as he was about a podium finish.

"It was really a brutal fight. But i took it and i’m really happy with myself," said the allgauer after the giant slalom in saalbach-hinterglemm, which was surprisingly won by the slovenian zan kranjec and which ended an impressive series of successes of the austrian world cup dominator marcel hirscher.

Luitz, however, confirmed his rising form after the recent turmoil over a forbidden oxygen inhalation and the threatening disqualification of his first world cup victory in beaver creek. On sunday before in the giant slalom of alta badia he had as 20. Still disappointed, the day after there was a first ray of hope with fifth place in the parallel giant slalom. "The energy that i didn’t have is back now," said the 26-year-old. "Now hopefully it will continue."

Luitz could even argue a little bit, because he was only eight hundredths of a second behind frenchman mathieu faivre in third place. Second place went to loic meillard from switzerland. If luitz had made one less mistake, he would have made it to the podium. "There would have been quite a bit of room for improvement, but no one made it down without a mistake," he said, and he was right: matts olsson and manuel feller, the fastest skiers in the first run, were eliminated from the race. After two unusually long runs, luitz said: "it was extremely hard, you’re running out of juice at the bottom."

Head coach mathias berthold praised the "psychologically very strong performance" of his protege, who had recently been very much affected by the oxygen affair. "He is back on course," he told the german press agency. "At the moment it is certainly not so easy for him mentally."The successes give cause for optimism for the two remaining giant slaloms before the world championships in adelboden and garmisch-partenkirchen.

The fact that luitz remained ahead of olympic champion and world champion hirscher in very difficult circumstances is an additional small success. "Of course it feels good," said the athlete from SC bolsterlang. In sixth place, the world’s best ski racer missed out on the podium in the giant slalom after 18 podium finishes in a row. "Of course it’s not funny," said the overall world cup champion from eastern europe. "I tried everything possible during setup. It didn’t work out today, that’s part of it." Luitz said: "the hirscher is also only a human being. He made a few mistakes today."

Luitz was the only german in the points. Alexander schmid dropped out in second run. "That was bitter, because i had felt good."Fritz dopfer as third starter in saalbach threatens to slip far back in the starting list because of it. "That could become bose", said the form-weak garmischer at the BR-television. Another slalom follows on thursday. Felix neureuther also wants to be back on the start line by then. He had renounced the giant slalom.

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