They have been competitors in slalom for years. However, Felix Neureuther and Marcel Hirscher could not compete against each other in the first race of the season in Levi, Finland. While the often wounded Neureuther was operated on at the same time for the first pass of the thumb, Hirscher celebrated his 59th victory in the World Cup.
The Austrian won just before Henrik Kristoffersen, but he overtook André Myhrer by 1.41 seconds. Hirscher is in top shape at this early stage of the season. He could win the entire World Cup for the eighth time in a row. When Neureuther can challenge his first race, he is still uncertain.
National coach Mathias Berthold hopes that despite injury Neureuther will be able to go to the US for the races in Lake Louise (only downhill and super-G) and Beaver Creek. "I'd rather go to America at the end of next week." But this is hope, "without talking to the doctor, we just wait and see."
Neureuther himself expected from an injury, at least in a slalom with a longer break, because a hand is needed to drop a pole. "After the operation, it takes six weeks to complete the treatment, so I can go back," he said before the operation. Regardless of whether the gigantic slalom on Beaver Creek is feasible on December 2, he could not judge: "I can imagine Beaver Creek is something, but if it works, I will try."
Without Neureuther, little was happening in the German slalom team at Levi. Their best was Sebastian Holzmann on position 23. Fritz Dopfer, after all 14th after the first race, was eliminated in the last five goals before the finish line. Anton Tremmel had previously failed in the same place: the 23-year-old initially defeated his way to seventeenth place after the first race with a high starting number 74.
On the other hand, Stefan Luitz left the final eleven months after tears of the cruciate ligament, David Ketterer, Linus Straßer and Dominik Stehle.