In the life of a ski racer there is very little between suffering and joy. In Linus Straßer’s career, the suffering once seemed so great that the 29-year-old thought of ending his career.
About four years ago, the slalom skier was one of the fastest in training, but then regularly messed up the competitions.
With his coaches he worked on a new approach to the races and rediscovered it – the fun of skiing. An attitude that made him the first German winner at the night slalom classic in Schladming.
When the German national anthem sounded at the finish line of the “Maracana Stadium of Skiing” – as the former alpine star Felix Neureuther calls the Planai – and Strasser looked at the night sky with glassy eyes, he was probably thinking of that time.
Or the sobering start to this winter, after which hardly anyone had expected a podium finish. Even the Olympic qualification, which Straßer only cracked with his third place in Adelboden in mid-January, seemed in danger.
About a month later, many doubts and worries are probably forgotten. Suddenly, Nightrider Straßer is even considered a medal candidate at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Only three other ski stars in slalom twice on the podium
Alongside Norway’s Lucas Braathen, Austria’s Manuel Feller and Sweden’s Kristoffer Jakobsen, Straßer is the only one who has already raced onto a slalom podium twice this season. In view of the other results – 14th place and three zero numbers – it would be presumptuous to speak of consistency.
“There is so little between suffering and something like that here,” said Straßer after his famous victory in Schladming. So he just wanted to enjoy the moment.
A moment that did not come as a complete surprise, as Straßer later revealed. “You win today, Straßer,” someone shouted at him at a gas station on the way to Schladming. Strasser delivered.
The fact that the Bavarian is now one of the best slalom skiers in the world is also due to a maturing process that he went through. Strasser’s approach to racing has changed.
Alpine skiing: Strasser emulates Felix Neureuther
A youngster who primarily emulated his great idol Neureuther has become an athlete who is pursuing his own path. “Me, my skiing and the mountain” is the Upper Bavarian’s plan.
A plan that somehow seems to be working despite (still) a lot of shape fluctuations. With five podium finishes – including two wins – Straßer has been the most successful German in the World Cup since last season.
“Linus has been one of the fastest for years. Very agile and very agile,” says sports director Wolfgang Maier, describing his protégé. In many races he just drives too “wild and impetuous”.
The slalom competition at the Olympic Games is scheduled for February 16th. Even then, Straßer wants to concentrate on himself again – and on his skiing. And up the mountain. “If you succeed at the end, that’s the best thing there is.”