Sunday, 29 January 2023

Croatian Skier Zrinka Ljutić Records First World Cup Podium Finish, Career Result for Leona Popović!

January 29, 2023 - A historic day for Croatian skiers as Zrinka Ljutić finishes on the podium for the first time and Leona Popović finishes fifth in the slalom at the World Cup in Špindlerův Mlyn on Sunday! 

Nineteen-year-old Zrinka Ljutić, who had a starting number of 17, was third in the first run. In the end, she finished 49 hundredths of a second behind the winner German Lena Duerr, who had a time of 1:30.91. American Mikaela Shiffrin was second, six-hundredths of a second behind Duerr. Leona Popović was 84 hundredths of a second behind the winner (1:31.75).

This is historic for Croatian skiing for many reasons. For starters, this is Ljutić's first podium finish of her career. So far, her best result at the World Cup was fifth place in Courchevel last year. Popović also achieved the best result of her career after winning fifth place today. She finished sixth place twice last year - in Levi and Schladming.

Ljutić thus secured the first podium finish for Croatian women's skiing after 16 years. This is also the first time after 18 years that Croatia has two skiers among the top ten (Janica Kostelić and Nika Fleiss were second and sixth, respectively). Never before have two Croatian representatives been in the World Cup's top 5. 

With today's result, Shiffrin secured the small Crystal Globe in the slalom but failed to achieve her 86th victory and equal the record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark for the number of wins at the World Cup.

In the standings of female slalom skiers, Shiffrin has 785 points, Swiss Wendy Holdener is in second with 530, and Petra Vlhova is in third with the same number of points. Popović is seventh with 237 points, and Ljutić is tenth with 190 points.

In the overall standings, Shiffrin is first with 1697 points, Vlhova is second with 966 points, and Swiss Lara Gut Behrami is third with 906 points. Popović is 28th and has 237 points, and Ljutić is 33rd with 208 points.


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Sunday, 13 March 2022

Winter Paralympic Games: Damir Mizdrak Finishes 7th in Slalom

March 13, 2022 - On the last day of the Winter Paralympic Games in Beijing, Croatia's representative was skier Damir Mizdrak, who won seventh place in the slalom for the blind and visually impaired, which is his best result in major competitions.

This was Mizdrak's third Paralympic Games after Sochi (2014) and PyeongChang (2018). So far, his best slalom ranking was ninth place four years ago in Korea, while he took 11th place in Sochi. He is eighth and ninth from the world championships, reports HRT.

The victory went to Italian Giacomo Bertagnolli, in second was Austrian Johannes Aigner with 28 hundredths of a second behind Bertagnolli, while the bronze went to Slovak Miroslav Haraus (+9.40).

"I am much happier than I was in the giant slalom. In the first run, I drove solidly; the track was a bit more open. Maybe I'm a little sorry that I didn't get into the rhythm well. In the second run, there was trouble, but it was better. All in all, we did a good job at these games," said the 30-year-old from Zagreb, who will remember Beijing for the best results in slalom and giant slalom, in which he was also seventh.

"These games in Beijing are my favorite, not only because of the placement but because of the overall impression and organization. And because of the ski resort and our whole team and everything we've been through in recent seasons. I think we did a very good job," he pointed out.

The Winter Paralympics are in Milan and Cortina in four years, but Mizdrak believes that it is still too far for some plans.

"We will see; four years is still a big period, now I have to reset, and after that, we will see," he said.

His eyesight began to deteriorate from the age of five when he was diagnosed with an incurable disease of optic nerve damage. However, he did not allow his damage to limit him from playing sports.

"I was lucky because my family and friends never saw it as a problem. I’ve always been in a society where spades are made, and football is played. So I was lucky and grew up normal. I have always loved sports, and from an early age, I was involved in all school sports activities that allowed me to play with poor eyesight," said the member of SKOI Sljeme.

Mizdrak's guide on the ski slope is Marija Coch. They are connected by a Bluetooth device which acts as his “eyes on the track.”

"I am happy and satisfied that we managed to achieve this placement and perform at the Games in general. This is my first time, and I still need time to process some things, to become aware of everything," said the 22-year-old from Zagreb.

"Like Damir, I prefer slalom, which is good because of our communication. It is faster and more dynamic, and it is easier for us to ski slalom because the distance is smaller and we are close. In the giant slalom, when Damir makes a mistake, it is harder to get back on track," added Coch, who has been skiing and working with Mizdrak for the last three years.

Coach Luka Dobrinić pointed out that Mizdrak did well in these Games, achieving his best placements in slalom and giant slalom.

"These are his third Games and the best placements. It is a beautiful thing; it can be seen that we are advancing, not going backward," said Dobrinić, referring to Mizdrak's performance in slalom.

"Damir had two good runs; the second was a bit better. The trail is not easy, it is quite steep, and the second was even more demanding. Nevertheless, he had a good Games, he gave his maximum, and I have no objections. Congratulations to the entire team that has been working here for these four years," Dobrinić emphasized.

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Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Samuel Kolega Finishes 15th, Filip Zubčić 18th in Olympic Men's Slalom

February 16, 2022 - Croatian skier Samuel Kolega finished 15th place in the Olympic men's slalom on Wednesday, ahead of Croatia's best skier Filip Zubčić. 

Croatia's best skier Filip Zubčić placed 18th in the men's slalom at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Wednesday. 

"I did better in the second run; I had a better feeling. It will be better on camera as well. For me, the Olympics are over, not the most successful. However, there are still races until the end of the season, and we are moving forward optimistically," said Zubčić for HRT after the race.

After placing 10th in the giant slalom and now the 18th in the slalom, Zubčić did not show his best skiing at the Olympic Games.

"I'm not satisfied; it's not the best. I wasn’t even in the top 15 today, so I won’t get anything for the starting list; I might be in the second group in the slalom. So it is, as it is. I did my best. I didn't do well today on this track. I thought it would be much better," said Zubčić and added:

"I came here; I felt great. I skied well; the training went well. But unfortunately, the giant slalom was very bad, especially the first run. Tenth place doesn’t sound bad, but it sounds bad to me. I thought the slalom would be better, but it wasn’t."

He is now turning to new challenges in the World Cup.

"Five more slaloms and three giant slaloms until the end of the season. A lot can still be done; we need to rest and then train until the end of the season," concluded Zubčić.

"I can't complain. The second run was not the greatest, but I did my best. It was not the best ride, but enough for 15th place, those are points, and I am glad," said Samuel Kolega, today the best Croatian skier in 15th place.

Matej Vidović skied to 20th place.

"The track did not suit me, but the conditions are great, as well as the organization. Unfortunately, we didn't make it. I had a weaker first run, better second, but we were not close to where we would like to be," Vidović concluded.

Source: HRT

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Sunday, 12 December 2021

Croatian Skier Filip Zubčić Places 3rd in Val d'Isere, Best Career Slalom Result!

December 12, 2021 - Croatian skier Filip Zubčić achieved the best slalom result of his carer, placing third today in Val d'Isere!

Croatian skier Filip Zubčić was excellent in the World Cup in Val d'Isere on Sunday and achieved the best slalom result of his career in that discipline.

After placing 6th in the first run, the Croatian skier further improved his ranking at the French winter resort, finishing on the podium in third place. He was especially impeccable in the lower part of the track and entered the finish line as the first-place finisher.

Although he was unlucky on Saturday, a day later, Zubčić was brilliant in the first slalom of the season. Zubčić's best slalom ranking in the World Cup before this was fifth place.

"This is crazy. This is something I secretly hoped could happen this year, and here it is - now in the first race. I knew that I had progressed in slalom and that I could achieve the best results and I proved that today on one of the most difficult slalom tracks," said Zubčić after placing third in Val d'Isere.

Zubčić achieved this result after giving up on the giant slalom yesterday.

"The first run was great yesterday; the three of us separated, and I stumbled in the second run. I knew I had to take a risk from the start, I failed, but I stayed strong in my head. It didn’t depress me. I maintained a positive mentality, I rested and I knew that today was a new chance and race," said Zubčić.

Finally, the best Croatian skier reached the podium in slalom.

"Last year I always had a good first run, would screw up in the second, and would go into the third, fourth, fifth. But I wanted that to change. Today I was sixth in the first run, but I said to myself, yes, if I come in first, it could be the podium and in the end, it happened. Two people stumbled behind me, it's slalom, sometimes it's roulette," Zubčić concluded.

Matej Vidović also won slalom points and finished 19th in Val d'Isere.

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Monday, 5 November 2018

Croatian Skiers Optimistic Ahead of New Season, Boast 4 Slalom Skiers for First Time

Vedran Pavlek announced the new ski season in which Croatia will have the right to four slalom skiers for the first time in history.