After clinching three medals in slalom including one in gold in 2007 at past FIS World Championships, Sarka Zahrobska achieved another historic performance at Whistler Creek finishing 3rd in the Olympic slalom of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
It’s the first Olympic medal in Alpine Skiing for the Czech Republic since the split of Czechoslovakia a few years ago. The two time World Cup winner ended a few hundredths of a second behind Germany’s Maria Riesch and Austria’s Marlies Schild.
“This is so nice, it means so much to me and my team,” said the 25-old from Prague who clocked the second best time in the opening leg. “I was lucky enough to start with number 1 in the first run so I managed to make the best of it. The course conditions were not easy for me as I rather race on icy snow and steep hill but I could handle the softer snow very well today.”
“In the second run I struggled in the lower part of the course but I could hang in there and get to the finish line in time to remain on the podium. It’s a wonderful and also a crucial result for our group. It should help us to promote our sport in the Czech Republic and reinforce our momentum. We need to fight hard to get the right support and sponsorships,” added the determined Czech champion who has been training and traveling with her boyfriend, a ski instructor, since last spring.
Sarka, who just celebrated her 24th birthday, has been considered a great slalom talent since the 2001 FIS Worlds at St Anton where she finished an unexpected 21st despite her young age – 16. Two years later she was 9th in combined at St Moritz and then 3rd in 2005 in slalom at Santa Caterina.
In December 2002 she entered her first World Cup race at Sestriere, a KO slalom, that she ended an amazing 5th. In January 2007 she finally reached her first podium at Zagreb six weeks prior her extraordinary triumph at Are where she finished a few tenths of a second ahead of Austria’s top favorite Marlies Schild.
In total she reached nine World Cup podiums in total including her two wins at Aspen in December 2008 and 2009.
She did well in the following slalom races even though she didn’t reach the podium again. Her consistency in recent year has been amazing.
Since her DNF in the second run at the Finals in Lenzerheide in March 2005, Sarka only failed once to score World Cup points in her best specialty, finishing twenty times among the top-10 in the last 21 slaloms races!
“It definitely helps me to be very confident and motivated and fight hard in big events,” she explains. “Of course I wish to win more races in future, but I guess I still have to improve my experience and my routine. The most important for me right now is that I’m fully enjoying what I’m doing. That medal will help me to be very determined in future seasons too.”
2nd last season in the 2009 slalom World Cup standings, Sarka is now in 5th position prior the last slalom race from the Finals at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. With another strong result in Bavaria, she still could reach another final podium in the slalom standings.