The remarkable feat of Katharina Linsberger

Katharina Linsberger has achieved what many thought was impossible: to end the slalom duo domination of Michaela Schiffrin and Petra Flehova. Nevertheless, the Austrian succeeded brilliantly.

Everything turned very quickly during the season finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, last Saturday. This season, no skater made sure to get their hands on the crystal ball in the slalom race before the last race. Thus, a real fight for the title will take place between Vlhova, Shiffrin and Liensberger.

Tense Day

Katharina Linsberger was the first of the trio to start, under difficult, albeit negotiable circumstances. Set the Austrian tone by setting the best time for the first heat. Schiffrin followed him immediately, unable to do a better job than Linsberger, as he finished third, despite his flawless descent. Meanwhile, defending champion Petra Fleuva has been unable to find directions in her, and she is often out of balance and eccentric. She ended up in sixth place temporarily, just under two seconds after the leader’s reference time.

The second round wasn’t easy for Vlohova, who was already late. The Slovak could never adapt, as she scored the fastest time in the 14th race. With Slovakia now out of the equation, everything is decided between Schiffrin and Linsberger. The one who would finish first will also win the Discipline Title.

It was the American who started first and everything was going great, until she slipped a bit from the last doors, lost her axis and leaned on the wrong man to regain balance, causing him to lose tenths of a second. I managed to get the reference time with a stopwatch of 56.24 seconds.

So it was the pressure on the shoulders of the 23-year-old Austrian, who was the last to start. The wind was on her sail with her first career victory in the World Cup Tour in Ur, Sweden the previous week, and she won her title last month at the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

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Linksberger did what it knows best – squeezing and delivering merchandise at a perfect all-round incline, at a 0.34-second off Shiffrin’s time.

So Linksberger became the new Crystal Slalom Champion while at the same time putting an end to a very difficult trend to break.

The end of an era

It’s hard to predict what Katharina Lynsberger’s life will look like over the next few years. On the one hand, what is certain is that it will have gone down in history because it put an end to the reign of the duo of Michaela Schiffrin and Petra Flova, who for several years imposed his supremacy in the slalom, the skaters. To be ahead of any competition.

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to realizing just how attractive an Austrian is.

Linksberger won the last two World Cups of the season, in Sweden and Switzerland. These are only two wins a season and also his first two wins of his career. The last time Chevrin or Vlhova did not win two successive slalom events was in 2014, when Nicole Hössb won in Aspen, USA, on November 30, and Maria Petella Holmener won the following month, December 13, in Ur, Sweden. To add to the surrealism of this statistic, the Chevrin-Vlhova duo have won 47 of their last 55 slalom races since November 30, 2014.

Nonetheless, Linsberger became the second skater to win the Crystal Globe title in a slalom since 2013, along with Schiffrin and Vlohova. Frida Hansdotter achieved this milestone in 2015. Other than that, Schiffrin won all the crystal balls in the slalom between 2013 and 2019 and in 2020 it was the turn of Flova.

We should also not forget Linsberger’s victory at the World Championships in February, which was there as well, taking the Schiffrin and Felhofa scale in the slalom, thus slowing down Schiffrin’s four consecutive winning streak in the World Championships event in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

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Hero’s DNA

Many things can explain the historic season that Linsberger has just experienced.

Obviously, his rigorous work on training. In recent years, she has tried to emulate her ring role model, Michaela Schiffrin, in the hope that one day she will be able to join or even surpass her. She and her national team coach, Christian Mitter, worked hard to push the skater to the highest peak, with rigorous training methods and equipment changes. In an area like Slalom, where it is all about technique, coordination and redundancy, Linsberger’s hard work has finally paid off. It is not for nothing that she is recognized as one of the toughest and most competitive athletes in the ring.

Also, Austria’s ability to adapt was crucial at the most important moments of the calendar. Lienberger was the season’s best skater when the piste conditions were the least favorable. The best example of this is from both worlds. The weather delayed the start of the competitions for several days, bad weather badly damaged the slopes and the snow quality was appalling. So much so, that during the slalom, 56 of the 105 skaters who participated in the start fell and failed to complete each of the qualifiers. Linksberger then managed to pull out of the game, which was an empire during this day of February 20 in very high quality, combining speed and technique, allowing it to reach the bottom of the slope a second earlier. Petra Falhova, nearly two seconds behind Michaela Schiffrin, who finished third. These are huge time gaps and testify to the dominance of the young skater.

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After that, consistency was the turning point of the season in slalom. As much as Linsberger’s symmetry won him, Vlhova’s twists, favorites until mid-season, cost him a small crystal ball. Linksberger has always been able to improve during the season. In nine races, she has scored eight podiums. His worst position is fourth. The calendar began with two bronze medals, followed by four silver medals in five races, and finished with a gold medal in the last two encounters of the season.

In contrast, Vlhova started with great success with three wins in the first four saves of the season. Then, in the last five races, she landed on the podium only twice and opened the door for Linsberger to end her season in the eighth and sixth places. As for her, Chevrine also had an excellent season, much more than expected for her return to the competition, but Linsberger had more podiums than the American, and second place in particular, which made the difference at the finish line.

At a press conference after her first rally victory in re on March 13th, the new slalom queen said, “It was a perfect sled. I did what I had to do to win. This sentence could also apply very well to his entire season, as perfectionism is Necessary to achieve the impossible and this is how Katharina Lynsberger made history.

Highlights of Katarina Lynsberger season

– Small slalom crystal ball

Two victories on the World Cup circuit

– Eight coronation podiums on the World Cup circuit

– Gold medal in slalom at the World Championships

– Gold medal in the parallel slalom at the World Championships

– Bronze medal in the giant slalom at the world championships

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