Hirscher and Matt make history for Austria

Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:51am EST
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By Patrick Lang

LEVI, Finland (Reuters) - Marcel Hirscher stole the limelight once again when he gave Austria their 100th slalom World Cup victory on Sunday, but his team mate Mario Matt also made history on the Finnish slopes.

At 34 years and seven months, Matt, who won the first of his two world titles nearly 13 years ago, became the oldest skier on the podium of a World Cup slalom and boosted his Olympic chances for Sochi.

In spite of his two gold medals at the world championships in 2011 and 2007, Matt has taken part in only one Winter Games, in Turin in 2006 when he failed to complete his slalom.

In 2002 and 2010, the Austrian was forced out of Olympic action by injuries.

"Of course in Austria, many skiers have a chance to be in the team but it would be fantastic to earn a new Olympic cap," said Matt after his second place in the opening slalom of the World Cup season, 0.22 seconds behind Hirscher.

The twice World Cup winner kicked off the season with his first victory on a slope that has never suited him in the past.

With 10 slalom podiums in succession, Hirscher joined Swede Ingemar Stenmark as the most consistent specialist in history.

Matt, far more erratic because of countless injuries, cited Hirscher as one of the reasons why he carried on racing after getting a bronze medal at the last world championships in Schladming.   Continued...

Austria's Marcel Hirscher competes during the first run of the men's slalom of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Levi, Finnish Lapland, November 17, 2013. REUTERS/Markku Ulander/Lehtikuva