Štuhec and Kranjec keep Slovenian skiing fans proud
Slovenian Alpine ski racers kept their contact to the world's best this season, owing to Ilka Štuhec in the women's World Cup and Žan Kranjec in the men's competitions. Štuhec finished as the runner-up in the overall downhill standings and Kranjec placed third in the final giant slalom standings.
Štuhec, the 2017 and 2019 downhill world champion, managed a much anticipated comeback this year following three mediocre post-injury seasons.
The 32-year-old won four podium finishes in downhill World Cup races, including two victories, to clinch second spot in the final overall downhill standings, trailing only Italy's Sofia Goggia.
Štuhec, who also won the last downhill race in the Andorran ski resort of Soldeu on 15 March, was a bit sad the season is over. "It was an incredible season and it's rather a pity it's over but I'm looking forward to the next one," said the worthy successor to Slovenian skiing superstar Tina Maze.
Meanwhile, the only Slovenian racer among male skiers to challenge the top brass was giant slalom specialist Kranjec, who for the first time in his career clinched a spot among the top three in the overall giant slalom rankings after finishing 4th overall two times.
The Beijing Olympics silver medallist mustered two third places and one second place in the World Cup season to finish third overall, after winner Marco Odermatt of Switzerland and Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen in second.
He is the first male Slovenian Alpine ski racer to achieve such a feat after Matjaž Vrhovnik, who was third in the slalom overall standings 23 years ago.
"This fact tells you just how difficult it is. You really have to keep a very high level throughout the season, and with the exception of two races I was very steady this year," the 30-year-old said after the season finale.
The name deserving to be mentioned along with Štuhec's and Kranjec's this year is Ana Bucik, who finished as the 8th best slalom and 14th best giant slalom racer of the season.
The trio chalked up 24 Slovenian top ten finishes in World Cup races, each collecting eight. Two more were contributed by Štefan Hadalin with a 9th place in a giant slalom race and Miha Hrobat with seventh place in a downhill race.