Herman Maier came close...
Only a small group of established giant slalom specialists could not achieve their search of ultimate triumph in Alta Badia – stars like Benni Raich and Hermann Maier from Austria, the Norwegian ‘twins’ Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus and their successor Aksel Lund Svindal, giant slalom gold medal winners Rudi Nierlich and Stefan Eberharter or 2010 Olympic champion Carlo Janka – yet some of them managed to reach the podium once in a while.
In December 1999 Herman Maier missed the victory to France’s Joël Chenal by only 8/100 of a second days after finishing 6th and 3rd in downhill at Val Gardena – and celebrating a total of five victories in giant slalom, downhill and Super-G in previous weeks at Soelden, Lake Louise and Beaver Creek!
The Austrian superstar was also a couple of times 3rd – like in December 2004, a few months prior to clinch his last gold medal in giant slalom at the FIS Ski Worlds at Bormio 2005. With a total of 28 podium finishes, the ‘Herminator’ surely was an impressive giant slalom racer – besides being Olympic champion in that specialty back in 1998!
The Italian ‘Gran Risa’ experts
Some skiers turned out to be truly ‘Gran Risa’ experts as Italian David Simoncelli and Max Blardone who won four times together there and also reached several times the podium in past 15 years… Back in 2009, they even managed to finish 1st and 2nd and created huge enthusiast among their numerous fans standings at the arrival and along the course.
A winner of seven World Cup races in his career, Max also excelled on the most difficult slopes at Adelboden, Kranjska Gora, Beaver Creek, Val d’Isère, Soelden or Lenzerheide amassing a total of 24 top-3 results from 2004 to 2012. It was nice to see him dressed as ‘Superman’ in the finish area of the race a few years ago – the result of a bet with a friend of him.
Davide Simoncelli reached five out of his eight podium finishes in Alta Badia, apparently always very inspired by the thrilling atmosphere surrounding that particular race. He had raced a total of 15 times on the ‘Gran Risa’ – possibly kind of a record in recent years!