Austrian medal haul a bonus: Klammer

Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:51am EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (Reuters) - Expectations always soar for Austrian teams competing at the elite level but even alpine skiing great Franz Klammer has been taken aback by their early medal haul at the Beaver Creek world championships.

The mighty Austrians have already piled up seven medals, including four golds, from the first seven events and more are expected from their men and women in the giant slalom and slalom over the next three days.

Competing on U.S. snow well away from home has been "a little advantage" says Klammer, whose only concern for his country's skiers in the years to come is the lack of proficient technical racers following in Marcel Hirscher's footsteps.

"We always expect medals but we didn't expect that we would be running so well at this point," a smiling Klammer, considered one of the best downhill skiers of all time, told Reuters before the women's giant slalom at Beaver Creek on Thursday.

"Our team was well prepared and we have good guys. We have winners on the team and that's all that matters. So with Anna Fenninger, with Marcel Hirscher, with Hannes Reichelt, the whole team gets a boost from these guys."

Fenninger won gold in the women's Super-G at Beaver Creek and then silver in the downhill while Reichelt, who missed the 2014 Sochi Olympics because of back problems, landed his first ever world championship gold medal in the men's Super-G.

Hirscher, overall World Cup champion for the past three years, won the men's super combined at Beaver Creek and was part of the Austrian team that won the 16-nation event. He still has his specialist events, the giant slalom and slalom, to come.


Former Austrian skiing champion Franz Klammer presents to the meeting of the International Olympic Committee his country's bid to elect Salzburg as the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, during the IOC's meeting in downtown Guatemala City, July 4, 2007.    REUTERS/Daniel Leclair