After a turbulent winter with many steamers, stefan luitz doesn’t want to be slowed down in the world championship giant slalom by a loaded shoulder – he is happy to accept a very special restriction for it.
What the allgauer can’t do with his safety splint and tape bandage on his left joint is cheer wildly. "It might look a bit strange, but with one arm it would work," the 26-year-old in are said with a grin, referring to a possible medal win – which, by the way, would be a historic one.
Despite the injury, luitz is probably the best hope for the german ski federation in sweden – felix neureuther looks even worse for wear before the slalom. The silver medal of teammate viktoria rebensburg in the giant slalom on thursday evening could not have been enough for the german team around luitz and co. Being an extra motivator, hopes alpine boss wolfgang maier. "That’s the crucial thing, that you know psychologically, we can also be up front and not just fourth or fifth," he said.
"I’m glad that I can be here at all," said the athlete from SC bolsterlang and announced before the giant slalom on friday (14 june).15/17.45 p.M./ZDF and eurosport): "i feel fit, also from the shoulder, otherwise i wouldn’t have come here. I don’t just want to go along for the ride, I want to be at the front of the pack."
After a great start to the season with the supposed victory in beaver creek, luitz actually seemed to be making a name for himself as a gold medal candidate for the world championships, alongside austrian ski star marcel hirscher, who is now also suffering from a flu infection. But then there were jolts en masse.
First, it came out that he was threatened with a supplementary disqualification because he had inhaled bottled oxygen in the USA without permission. Unsettled by the development, luitz failed in two world cups. When he caught himself, he fell on his shoulder and dislocated his joint in adelboden in january. To make matters worse, the cancellation of his success at beaver creek was made official by the world federation FIS.
But all the worries are to be faded out, the formerly sloppy racer works – also with the help of a mental coach – on his optimism. After training on thursday, luitz left the track with a grin on his face, after he had peeled himself out of his plastic orthosis.
He can accomplish something historic in are: apart from markus wasmeier’s two gold medals at the 1985 world championships in bormio and the 1994 olympic winter games in lillehammer, germany has no podium finishes in major events in the discipline of giant slalom.
In the race, he does not sense any limitation, the technician said. "I can start normally, push normally, touch goals, nothing at all happens."It can only be dangerous if something unforeseen happens on the track, he is lifted up a bit and has to use his arms to regain his balance, or even to cut himself off with his hand in the snow. But that’s exactly what the splint and the tape bandage are for. "I never got into a situation in training where i was scared or in pain," luitz said.
"Stefan is doing really well," said wolfgang maier, who is still waiting for a world champion or olympic champion from the DSV men’s team in his time as head of the german alpine skiing team. Should it work out with the medal this time of all times, then the germans would also have to accept a one-armed jubilation.