February 10, 2018 / 9:21 AM / 3 months ago

Innerhofer battles with doubts as he seeks medal repeat

PYEONGCHANG (Reuters) - Italian Christof Innerhofer hasn’t stood on a downhill podium for nearly four years and the silver-medalist from Sochi admits that his barren spell has led him to doubt his ability.

Alpine Skiing – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men’s Downhill Training – Jeongseon Alpine Centre - Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 10, 2018 - Christof Innerhofer of Italy trains. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The 33-year-old from South Tyrol finished just 0.06 seconds behind Austrian gold medalist Matthias Mayer in Russia in 2014 and also picked up a bronze in the combined event.

But since Sochi his form has faded - he finished second in a World Cup race in Lenzerheide, a month after his Olympic success but has managed just two podiums in Super-G in the subsequent years.

“It is tough, some days I look and see how I go in the training, sometimes I think I can be like Marcel Hirscher and be always with the best guys and then comes the race and I am never on the podium,” the Italian told Reuters.

A lack of self-belief certainly seems to have been one of the factors that has hampered Innerhofer.

“Sometimes I am thinking – maybe I cannot do it, maybe I can’t be with the best guys like I was years ago. But I still try to believe. In the past always something wrong seemed to always happen. But I’m not too old, I have some more years and the possibility to do well again,” he said.

Innerhofer showed signs his ability is still there by posting the fastest time in the second training run this week although he was quick to point out that he had been helped by a tail-wind.

He will take more encouragement from the way he handled the course at Jeongseon where he picked up a second place in Super-G in the World Cup Olympic test event in 2016.

The Italian may also be able to draw, as he has done at times in his difficult spells of form, from his memories of glory in Sochi.

“Sometimes I think of it,” he said ahead of the men’s downhill race on Sunday. “Every time I come home from a race I see my medals there and it is good memories.

“But I am still here because I want to live for the future not the past. I have other goals and I am still here because I would like to win.”

Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Sudipto Ganguly

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