Manuel Feller raised the hopes of winning Austria’s first World Ski Championships gold medal in Courchevel when he won Sunday’s men’s slalom.
Feller, a world slalom medallist in St Moritz, was able to clock 46.93 seconds down L’Eclipse in sunny and warm conditions.
At 0.13sec, AJ Ginnis from Greece and Lucas Braathen from Norway sat joint second.
The winner of either one of those races would be a huge surprise. Greece has never won a world ski championship, and Braathen, 22 years old, was only three weeks ago a winner on the World Cup circuit.
Ginnis, the daughter of a Greek father, and an American mother, is a shining example of Greece’s talent.
Ginnis was born in Athens. He moved to America at the age 15 and raced his adopted country’s flag before changing allegiance.
His improbably began on the snowy slopes Mount Parnassus in central Greece. However, his career was severely disrupted by injuries, including six knee surgeries.
He was unable to represent the country he was born in at the Beijing Olympics 2022.
Ginnis, after the Courchevel leg, said that it was “really fun” and that it was “clearly a tight race.”
“I thought I had blown it up there. But then, I had a great middle- and bottom section. It was a good race and I’m happy that I can be in the fight for the medals.
“Hopefully it works out. Two weeks ago, it was an incredible high to be on the first podium of the World Cup for Greece in wintersports in Chamonix.
“A medal would be unbelievable, but I’m not thinking about that right now, I’m just focusing on the second run and you better bet I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”
– Praise the Greek gods
Ginnis laughed when Ginnis asked him if he had ever prayed to the Greek gods at the beginning of the day.
Ginnis stated that Mount Parnassos’ ski lifts are named after the gods.
Ginnis claimed that he is not bitter about being cut from the US Slalom Team in 2018, when he turned 23.
“All credit to them (US Team), they did develop us. “I think it was a will to ski for my homeland because I grew up, and then for them I was really injured,” he stated.
“The US team is too big to cater to athletes who haven’t performed as I expected, so I don’t blame them for cutting their team.
“It was a difficult time for me but everything happens for an reason. I have a World Cup podium under mine, sitting second, so it’s not all bad.”
Ginnis now skis with two braces after six surgeries, including one MCL and three ACLs. “It works! I’m truly very lucky to have the support I do and to be able to do this.”
The timings were followed by a host of favourite races, with the top 19 finishing within one second of Feller.
Sebastien Foss -Solevaag was Braathen’s world champion and Olympic champion Clement Noel was eighth (+0.64).
Noel stated, “I skied carefully to the top.” “I made a mistake that cost four-hundredths (or a second) of my life.
“I would not have done it if I didn’t do that. So I’m a little disappointed.
“I’ll need to do a lot more than just a second leg to get me to the podium.”
Feller was not the only Austrian hopeful. Fabio, in seventh place, and Marco Schwarz, in ninth, were also in contention for the third medal.