PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Michael Matt got a pep talk from his brother Mario before his second slalom run on Thursday and it did the trick with the Austrian claiming bronze to give his family a full set of Olympic medals.
Mario Matt, who retired after winning slalom gold in Sochi four years ago, and Andreas Matt, who won a silver in freestyle skiing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, were both watching their younger brother compete from home in Austria.
Even with title favorite and compatriot Marcel Hirscher skiing out, though, the prospects of Michael completing the set looked bleak when he was only 12th fastest in the opening run.
“(Mario) called me after the first run. It’s not a good sign when he calls me, it’s always when I am slow in the first run,” the 24-year-old said.
“But it helped. He said, ‘It didn’t look good, didn’t look smooth’. It’s not the way I can ski so we changed it a little bit.”
A little mistake on his second run convinced Matt that he was not going to finish on the podium despite being at the top of the leaderboard and he hid himself away from the TV screens as his rivals followed him down the slope.
“It was even more tough than being on the start, that was the craziest feeling I have ever had waiting down here,” he said.
“I couldn’t even watch anyone coming after me. I was looking at the ground and anywhere else.”
Swiss silver medalist Ramon Zenhaeusern did overhaul him and when Swede Andre Myhrer, who ended up with the gold, also surpassed his time with Norwegian standout Henrik Kristoffersen still to come, Matt had had enough.
“I didn’t watch Andre, then I got my backpack and said ‘that’s it’ because Henrik is really fast and skis very safe as well,” he said.
“I thought it was over, so I grabbed my bag and watched him. And he attacked full at the top and then he fell, lucky for me.
“You don’t wish anyone to fall out but in this situation you are just really happy.”
Editing by Ed Osmond