Alpine skiing-Austrians say Vancouver pain is past

Tue Feb 4, 2014 4:13pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Austrian skiing officials have shrugged off the pain of Olympic failure since the last Winter Games and they are hoping Sochi will also help the media forget the nightmare of Vancouver.

"For us it's forgotten. For some press people, not," Austrian ski federation sport director Hans Pum told Reuters on Tuesday with a laugh as he surveyed the athletes' village in the mountains.

In Whistler, where the Alpine skiing was held at the 2010 Vancouver Games, the sport's most dominant nation came and went without a single men's medal for the first time since 1936.

The shock was palpable, with a string of Austrian favorites coming tantalizingly close to the podium. It was short-lived, for victories came again soon enough on the World Cup circuit and at world championships.

Even so, the Austrian men failed to win a medal in the speed disciplines at last year's world championships on home snow in Schladming, with Marcel Hirscher coming to the rescue in the technical disciplines with two golds and a silver.

Hirscher, who has won two overall World Cups since Vancouver, will again be the main man in the team but other young skiers have come on strong.

"In Vancouver on the men's side we were not so lucky," said Pum. "We had four fourth places.

"But we have a strong team here. We have had in all disciplines, Alpine and also the others - Nordic combined and biathlon - a victory this season. We never had it before. I think we are the only nation that has in all disciplines the victory. Snowboard also. We have a strong team."   Continued...

A technician gestures before the opening ceremony of the 126th IOC session in Sochi, February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard