Alexander Schmid wins gold in the parallel race

Alexander Schmid wins gold in the parallel race

Alexander Schmid was still a little lost in Meribel’s target area when he was suddenly taken by surprise. Not from the emotions, no, from the teammates. Linus Straßer sprinted over and jumped into the arms of the new world champion in the parallel race. A cute picture of the two standing there in the snow, and it also tells a little bit about what this success means for Schmid, but also for his colleagues. With the first gold, the first German medal ever at this alpine Ski World Cup in Courchevel/Meribel “a lot of the pressure and pressure is off, also for the whole team”, said the 28-year-old from SC Fischen later.

Schmid, who also secured the first men’s individual gold since Hansjörg Tauscher’s downhill victory in Vail in 1989, would probably have lifted a muscle man like the downhill skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde at the finish line at that moment. Hardly anything was too difficult for the champion this Wednesday. But what was going on in his mind after the biggest triumph of his career, he couldn’t really put into words. “First of all, everything falls together and falls away from you,” he said. At the award ceremony in the finish area, he was visibly moved and touched.

Schmid is someone who doesn’t show his emotions uncontrollably, he has to put things in order for himself first. He is rather cautious in his choice of words, and very thorough in his analysis. It is possible that his nature has occasionally stood in his way in his job. He is one of “the most ingenious giant slalom skiers”, said head coach Christian Schwaiger, but he sometimes lacks conviction. Yes, Schmid replied that he was already aware of what he could do. “But I’m more of a person who downgrades himself a bit.” He wanted to avoid having too high expectations. “That way I can’t be disappointed in myself.” But if you hold back too much, instead of appearing confidently in front of the competition, you convey that you don’t feel good enough.

And maybe that’s why he’s missed a few opportunities in his career. At the World Championships two years ago in Cortina d’Ampezzo, he narrowly missed out on bronze in the parallel competition because he failed in the duel for third place on the last crest. Three days later in the giant slalom he was in third place after the first run – and with the medal in his eyes he dropped out in the final run. As “incredibly talented in movement”, but “very sensitive”, described the sports director in the German Ski Association, Wolfgang Maier, the second and probably last world champion in the parallel race. The competition is to be removed from the program again at the next World Cup.

This time he “pulled from the experience,” said Schmid. The plan to “not let the thought influence you” in the semi-final against the later bronze medalist Timon Haugen from Norway and to be able to reach the final worked out. “I was very withdrawn,” he said, focused on the next run, not what might come after.

Alexander Schmid is one of the most sensitive drivers and is using his skills profitably this time

Alexander Schmid is one of the most sensitive drivers and is using his skills profitably this time

Image: dpa

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said head coach Schwaiger about Schmid’s performance, who confidently prevailed against Austrian Dominik Raschner in the gold duel. The day before, the man from the Allgäu had “taken responsibility” for losing the quarter-finals in the team competition because he had slipped in the decisive run. “I wanted too much,” he admitted. In the individual race, the dosage then fitted.

“Always there, but still far away”

But not only the psyche has slowed Schmid down again and again in recent years, but also health problems. The Epstein-Barr virus prevented regular training for a few winters, and he dragged himself through many months in a physically weakened state. Before the current season, after good preparation, the coaches were confident that he would succeed in the next step. But over Christmas he caught a bad cold that slowed him down, then his back went on strike. “I was able to train very little, so maybe I didn’t know exactly where I was.” But now, he said after his arrival in Courchevel, he is physically fit. “Now I know what I have to do. I’m back.”

He initially related that to the parallel race, because this format is tailor-made for him. But maybe he is now capable of great things in the giant slalom (Friday, 10 a.m. and 1.30 p.m., ARD and Eurosport). He had never been worse than ninth in this World Cup season – but also never better than fifth. “Always there, but still far away,” said Schwaiger. For Schmid, the competition this Friday is “just an encore”. If it’s a medal, he doesn’t mind.

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