Kostelic is ‘even’ with Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Kostelic is ‘even’ with Beaver Creek

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

BEAVER CREEK – The ski patrol has skied Ivica Kostelic out of Beaver Creek on a sled because of injuries twice before, so to leave Beaver Creek Thursday in one piece, and with a win to boot, was a sweet moment for the Croatian World Cup racer.

Kostelic wanted to win Thursday’s slalom race so badly, and after his first run he felt like he had it in him to make it happen. It’s not like winning if foreign to Kostelic – he won the 2011 World Cup overall champion title by a landslide, and also won the slalom title last year – but winning at Beaver Creek had become a personal matter for him.

“I had a history with this course,” Kostelic said. “Today, after the first run going into the second run, I had a feeling like today is the day. Today is the moment for settling some old issues with this course.”

With nine surgeries in his career, he can blame two crashes at Beaver Creek for three of those surgeries. Kostelic was beginning to believe he could not win here, that the course might be cursed.

“Since then I never have luck on this course,” he said.

Three years ago he was on the verge of a good finish when he skied off course in the super combined, then two years ago he hurt his back in Beaver Creek.

“So it was like a series of misfortunes on this course and I was really, I mean it sounds maybe a little over the top now, but I was really dreaming of a day that I would beat this course and finally say, ‘now we’re even,'” Kostelic said. “… I really don’t know because it was happening over and over again. Someone said this is like a cursed place for us, and I don’t know, it’s like if it happens time and time again, you start to think ‘what’s going on?’ I mean, there’s something wrong with this place.”

Kostelic raced every men’s event in the last week at Birds of Prey. He finished 19th in the downhill, 32nd in super-G, 18th in Tuesday’s giant slalom and did not qualify for a second run in Sunday’s giant slalom.

The first-place win in slalom Thursday was Kostelic’s revenge – he said he finally feels like he has gotten even with Beaver Creek.

Third-place slalom finisher Marcel Hirscher, of Austria, feels the same way about this race venue. He had a third-place podium finish in giant slalom last year, but before that his best Beaver Creek finish was 15th place.

This week, however, Hirscher picked up a win in Sunday’s giant slalom, a second-place finish in Tuesday’s giant slalom, and finished the week with a third in slalom.

“At the moment, I can’t believe it,” Hirscher said. “I laughed a bit, but I keep smiling, because three years ago me and Beaver Creek had not a good relationship, but now we are getting (to be) good friends.”

Slalom at Beaver Creek is tough because it’s not a very steep course, Hirscher said. You have to ski smooth and clean, and keep your speed because of the flat sections of the course.

“If the hill is not that heavy or steep to ski, then it’s difficult for everyone, because if you make one little mistake, it costs you so much time,” Hirscher said.

The Italian second-place finisher Cristian Deville flew to Colorado just for Thursday’s slalom and picked up his first-ever World Cup podium finish. He had some extra time to prepare because the races in Levi, Finland, were canceled last month, and he was surprised with his finish Thursday because he had a foot injury in August that kept him away from his skis for a month and a half.

He’s now only been back on his skis for about a month and a half, so to pick up his first podium under these circumstances is especially sweet.

“First race, long race – I can say only that I’m very, very happy,” Deville said. “I was here four years ago and I like this place. I like the Charter hotel and the town – it’s really nice – and now it’s more better, more nice for me.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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