YANQING, China (Reuters) – If the skis Austrian Matthias Mayer wore while winning his Olympic gold medal in the super-G on Tuesday end up in a museum it will not just be his fans making pilgrimages to see them.
On Thursday, Mayer’s skis powered team mate Johannes Strolz to a fourth-place finish in the downhill run of the men’s combined, providing the platform for Strolz to go on to win the country’s second alpine title of the Games.
“My skis were perfect today, especially the downhill skis. They were absolute rockets,” Strolz told reporters at the Yanqing Alpine Centre. “I got the skis from Matthias Mayer and obviously he has very fast skis.”
Strolz won the combined gold 34 years after his father, Hubert, achieved the same feat at the Calgary Games in 1988.
He talked to his dad just before taking questions from reporters at the winners’ news conference.
“I just spoke to my father. He is happy for me and proud of me,” Strolz said. “It’s just an unbelievable moment for all of us in my family.”
The 29-year-old was within a whisker of missing the Olympics after being dropped from the super-competitive Austria team a year ago after his performances dipped.
He had to work as a police officer to supplement his income, driving a patrol car and controlling traffic.
But Strolz stuck it out on the World Cup circuit, paying his own way and preparing his own skis to get back on the team.
He earned a spot at the Olympics last month with a stunning World Cup slalom win in Adelboden in Switzerland — his first in his nine years of racing.
One habit Strolz picked up during his year in the skiing wilderness stuck and it served him well in China.
“The slalom skis were also very nice to ski,” Strolz said. “I had a perfect feeling on them. I prepared my slalom skis the day before yesterday by myself with the help of … a technician from HEAD Ski.
“I’ve always had the privilege to have a technician but after the last season I had not good enough results to make the Austrian team so I had to prepare the skis on my own.
“The Austrian Ski Federation offered me to have a technician again but I decided to keep doing it on my own because I had to have 100% confidence in the starting gate.”
That confidence resulted in Strolz scorching the slalom course, nicknamed “The Ice River”, in 47.56 seconds to pip Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and ensure Austria retained https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/alpine-skiing-kilde-leads-combined-after-downhill-run-2022-02-10 the gold Marcel Hirscher won for them in Pyeongchang four years ago.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings; Editing by Ken Ferris)