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BUKPYEONG, South Korea — What happened here Tuesday afternoon at Jeongseon Alpine Centre figures to linger for good in some corridor of memory, the mind’s eye casting it as a rampage, a fury, a vivid strand of mastery and maybe even as some sort of futurist painting.

Here down a slalom course that sneered with an unusual ration of pure hell came one of the best skiers in the history of mountains, yet also a man who hadn’t yet found an Olympic gold medal in 28 years and 11 months of life. Twenty-five of the entries would not finish the course. A wind gust showed up partway through and decided that for 15 seconds or so, this Marcel Hirscher from the Austrian Alps couldn’t see the floor.

All of that only deepened the memory of the 45.96-second slalom that ratified not only a champion in the two-pronged Alpine combined event but a champion of a caliber beyond most champions. Asked later whether his wait for a gold medal had enhanced the value of its arrival, Hirscher paused and said, “Not really. I mean, I’m just twenty-eight years old, and sure, these are my third Olympic Games, but I think I’m” — he tried to find words, maybe even seemed to seek modesty — “but maybe in the best shape I’ve ever been.”

The wait had stretched long enough to come to seem senseless and unjust the way those waits sometimes do. Hirscher placed fifth in the slalom and fourth in the giant slalom at Vancouver 2010, then fourth in the giant slalom and second in the slalom at Sochi 2014. In between and after those two, he had won six consecutive World Cup titles and passed his storied countryman Hermann Maier just last month to access second place all time with …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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