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Stenmark laments loss of slalom kudos

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19:00 CET+01:00
Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark on Saturday lamented the relative loss of kudos of the slalom, in which he won a record 86 races, insisting its technical complexity merited the discipline more space on the calendar.

"It is the basic discipline, the most technical and also the most difficult," Stenmark said on the sidelines of weekend World Cup action in Zagreb.

Of 41 men's events in this year's World Cup programme only eight are giant slaloms, with a similar total on the women's 38-race calendar.

"It is a shame. Already in my last season (1988/89) there were only six giant slaloms to make space for the super-G," Stenmark told reporters.

Stenmark is meanwhile opposed to the super-combined proposed format of a shortened downhill and a sole slalom run which the International Ski Federation is promoting.

"It's not a good idea. Already, I didn't like the formula of the classic combined," said the Swede, whose career spanned the 1970s and 1980s.

Stenmark stayed clear of the downhill following a bad fall in training just ahead of the Lake Placid Winter Games in 1976.

And he is not happy with the general development of the sport over the past 30 years, detecting the increased need for "power" in the slalom and also contending that "the equipment is now more important than technique."

He explained: "In my day you could recover from a mistake and pick up a lot of time in the second run. Technique was the overriding factor. With today's equipment, skiing is easier, even passing from one discipline to another.

But it is also more difficult to win as the average level has risen and you can't afford mistakes.

"I don't think I would have won as many races had I been competing today," concluded Stenmark, who landed 46 giant slalom and 40 slalom wins.

Stenmark and former champions including Luxemburg's Marc Girardelli, Italy's Alberto Tomba and Croatian Janica Kostelic competed in a special parallel giant slalom on Sunday to raise funds for children's hospitals.

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