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When "Mr. Vail" surprised himself

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Lasse Kjus was already the hero of the Alpine World Ski Championships in Vail/Beaver Creek before 14th February 1999, but when he passed the last gate of the slalom on the ‘international‘ piste in the early afternoon, he wrote the perfect ending to the story. Kjus took silver in the last competition of the World Championships - and thus won a medal in all five races. Gold in downhill and giant slalom, silver in super-G, combined and slalom. "When I was leading after the first run, I started to ponder," he recalled later. "That's when I realised that it was possible to win five medals."

The slalom was actually Kjus' weakest discipline; only a week earlier he had spun out of the starting gate at the start of the slalom in Wengen and had to start the first gate backwards, but ended up in third place. "This experience meant I had suddenly found my slalom form." In Vail, the icy conditions also worked in his favour. "But this was the medal I least expected." To top it all off, Kjus also crowned this season with his second triumph in the overall World Cup after the 1995/96 season.

In addition to three world championship titles and the 1994 Olympic victory in the combined, there is only one tiny blemish: Kjus has not managed a single World Cup victory in the slalom. A fact that "Mr Vail", who is now a successful sportswear manufacturer, has probably coped with quite well, considering his many other achievements.