ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Not to get all mushy, but that’s exactly how Andre Myhrer of Sweden prefers his snow.
The slushier, the better and possibly why Myhrer seems to save his best race for the last event of the year.
Myhrer capped off a second straight season with a slalom win at the World Cup Finals, beating Marcel Hirscher of Austria once again, too.
“I’m older, so I need a long start to get in shape,” the 34-year-old Myhrer said after Sunday’s slalom race concluded the finals. “It’s a little easier for me to handle this salty snow, compared to winter snow.”
Myhrer navigated the sun-splashed course in a combined time of 1 minute, 27.97 seconds, holding off Felix Neureuther of Germany by 0.14 seconds. Austria’s Michael Matt was third and Hirscher fourth.
An interesting tidbit about Matt: His older brother, Mario, won the last World Cup men’s slalom race in Aspen in 2001.
Hirscher held a 0.08-second lead heading into the final run, only to uncharacteristically lose speed near the finish.
“A mistake, five gates before finish line was not the happiest moment of the season,” Hirscher explained. “The first half of the run was really good.”
Before his bottom-of-the-hill hiccup, Hirscher appeared on the verge of his 50th World Cup slalom podium finish.
Now, he will have to wait a season to try and join Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark (81) and Italian Alberto Tomba (57) as the only men to achieve that milestone in the discipline.
That is, if he still has the passion to return. Hirscher typically takes a few weeks after every season to decide if he wants to go through the grind again. Then again, it will be an Olympic year as Hirscher searches for that elusive gold medal in South Korea.
“There will be a point, where I have to say, ‘OK, I’m done with professional ski racing and I’ll just go out there and ski for fun,’” Hirscher said. “That is a question: Do I decide when there is this point or by the natural way when the young athletes are kicking my (rear) and I’m out of the game.
“We are often thinking about it, how many years it will be possible to ski on this high level. At the moment, it’s lot of fun.”
The 28-year-old Hirscher turned in a fabulous season that saw him clinch the giant slalom and slalom globes, along with his sixth straight overall title. He also won the slalom and GS at world championships last month.
Asked where he stores all those crystal globes, Hirscher said the safest place he can think of — the bank.
“I trust them,” he cracked.
About the softening snow, Myhrer said he grew up skiing into May as a kid in Sweden. That’s why he thrives in spring-like conditions.
He won the slalom at the World Cup Finals in St. Moritz, Switzerland, to last season, too, using a powerful run to hold off Hirscher. That’s never an easy task.
“You try to do your best and he’s always there,” Myhrer said. “So whenever you beat him, you should be proud of yourself. He’s an amazing skier.”