World Cup holder Ivica Kostelic cast aside past woes in Beaver Creek when he won the first men’s World Cup slalom of the season in Beaver Creek, Colorado, on Thursday.
In a combined time of 1 minute, 50.20 seconds, the Croatian bagged the 19th World Cup victory of his career and his 11th in slalom.
Kostelic snatched his maiden World Cup win in nearby Aspen at the age of 22 in 2001, but the brother of multiple world and Olympic champion Janica Kostelic had never mastered the Birds of Prey course on which he also suffered a serious knee injury in 1999.
“It has been 12 years since I crashed here in ’99, I kept on coming back and it never went the way I wanted,” Ivica Kostelic told reporters.
“I really wanted this victory today. This course caused me so much heartbreak in the past. I kind of had my payback today,” he said.
Ivica Kostelic, who won a sensational haul of seven races in January, had been relatively quiet this season, but he returned to form on time for the first slalom of the winter.
“I didn’t expect anything special from this race after my disappointing results so far this season, even though slalom is my best discipline,” he said.
The Croatian admitted he was a little late starting his preparations because of yet another knee surgery.
“I had to give up on my usual technical training on Austrian glaciers in Spring,” he said.
“And I spent the summer sailing off the Croatian coasts. I only started working hard in autumn,” he added.
Italian Cristian Deville was second, 0.14 seconds adrift, for his first podium at the age of 30 and after nine years on the circuit.
Third place went to in-form Austrian Marcel Hirscher, winner of Sunday’s giant slalom on the same course.
The Austrian led after the first leg, but finished 0.48 seconds behind Kostelic.