Innerhofer celebrates silver as if it were gold

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 9, 2014 at 8:23 am •  Published: February 9, 2014
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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Christof Innerhofer couldn't stop celebrating after he secured the silver medal in the Olympic downhill Sunday.

And who could blame him?

The outgoing Italian struggles with so much back pain that he doesn't even train during the summer anymore.

Once considered a future overall World Cup contender after winning a medal of each color at the 2011 world championships, Innerhofer's career now is a day-by-day affair.

"This was the only thing I was missing," Innerhofer said. "I'm not one of those skiers who can win the overall or the discipline title. With my health condition that wouldn't be realistic. So I go race by race and today I had my best run of the season."

Innerhofer was faster than Austrian gold medalist Matthias Mayer through the first three checkpoints, fell behind by 0.01 seconds — the slimmest of margins — at the fourth interval and then ended up just 0.06 back at the finish.

When Innerhofer saw his result, he started screaming at the top of his lungs into a TV camera, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yeah!" Then he collapsed to the snow on his back with his skis still on, continuing to gesticulate for the cameras.

"This is worth like 10 wins," explained Innerhofer, who has six career World Cup victories — including one in the classic Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen, Switzerland, last season.

It was all the more special since Innerhofer had struggled so much this season, having not finished higher than fourth in any type of race; and considering his performance in the three official training sessions, in which he was fifth, 26th and did not finish.