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Austria’s Strobl Pulls A Surprise With First Giant Slalom Victory

Josef Strobl’s chest swelled and a smile crossed his face as he announced, in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, “I’m back. I’m back.”

Strobl was back atop the victory podium on Monday after a surprising victory in a men’s World Cup giant slalom. It had been two years since Strobl’s last victory - at Val d’Isere, France, in his specialty, downhill.

Until Monday, Strobl had only one top-10 finish in giant slalom but that was more a matter of the makeup of the Austrian team than a shortcoming by the 22-year-old.

“In my first season (1995), I won a downhill, and as a member of the downhill team you train only downhill,” Strobl said. “Then last year, I joined the giant slalom team as well and I spent the summer doing a lot of giant slalom training.”

Strobl proved he was more than a downhiller by beating fellow Austrian Hans Knaus and Swiss star Michael Von Gruenigen. Strobl, the surprise leader by .52 seconds in the morning run despite starting 20th, showed it was no fluke by completing two runs in a combined 2 minutes, 31.42 seconds.

Von Gruenigen took over the lead in the World Cup overall standings with 154 points to 136 for Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who was only 15th in 2:33.36.