A heavy, goggle-covering snowfall, Ante Kostelic’s first run course set and the pressure of Olympic selection on the line for many competitors all conspired to make the Hahnenkamm slalom at Kitzbuehel Friday (Jan. 24) an entertaining mix of tight skiing and wild performances.
In an absolutely incredible second run of slalom in wet snowfall under the lights, some fresh talent rose into prominence, Felix Neureuther got the family record for Hahnenkamm wins and Marcel Hirscher showed a slight chink in the armor with a mishap that catapulted him from first to worst in the blink of an eye.
Among the best stories of the night was that of Swiss skier Daniel Yule, 20, the final skier to make the qualification in the first run. With a clean track he charged a more wide open second run to put down a two-run time the next 21 skiers could not match. It was an even younger Norwegian, Henrik Kristoffersen, who finally unseated the Swiss, and his effort was stellar, maintaining his speed where others could not and presenting a mark the next six skiers could not best. Mattias Hargin, Ivica Kostelic, Patrick Thaler, Alexis Pinturault, Fritz Dopfer, and then another 20-year-old Swiss, first run hero, Luca Aerni, all tried to find the magic as a Friday night crowd of thousands, swelling with each arriving train, cheered their favorites.
The magic, though, was in short supply.
Neureuther, the winner at Kitzbuehel a year ago, made no attempt at perfection, saying all he really wanted was to be safe and reach the finish. That turned out to be a good strategy.
“It was such a tough race, one of the hardest I’ve ever skied,” he said. “I just wanted to be safe and it paid off. … From the start to the end, everything was tough. It was crazy. It was so bumpy and everything, but really cool.”
His “safe” run was fast enough to wrestle the lead away from Kristoffersen, but it left the door open for first run winner Hirscher. Austrian fans are so used to Hirscher claiming slalom wins with speedy second runs that the roar went up from the moment he slid out of the start. He was charging, going for the win, leaving no doubt of his intent. He actually built on his first run lead to the first intermediate split. But then there was a gasp from the sidelines as he straddled and pulled to the side. Neureuther jumped for joy in the finish. After a long pause, Hirscher climbed to make the gate legally and then continued his run to finish 33 seconds back.
The first run was no easier for even the greatest skiers who struggled down Ante Kostelic’s creative set. Kostelic is known for his tricky unconventional course sets, and just a season ago his course on this same Ganslern hill was rejected by officials as being unskiable.
“Wow, that was a tough run,” Neureuther noted after the first. “Kostelic’s courses are always a challenge and today it was a combination of tight turns and straight, fast sections.”
Neureuther’s father Christian won the Hahnenkamm slalom once, in 1979. Felix has now reach that pinnacle twice.
“I already have a gondola, so another — how do you say — scratch and mark in the gondola,” he quipped.
Canadian Michael Janyk successfully got through both runs for 14th place and Ted Ligety for 15th. Despite losing a pole in the first run, Nolan Kasper collected his first World Cup points of the season by finishing 18th. University of Vermont skier Jonathan Nordbotten of Norway picked up a career-best finish in 20th.
Unlike virtually all Hahnenkamm slalom winners, Neureuther will benefit from a large, well attended awards ceremony since the race was shifted from Sunday, when spectators typically depart immediately following the second run.
View more photos from this race in our gallery.
Men’s World Cup slalom, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 24, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
2 Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
3 Thaler, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5 Aerni, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
6 Hargin, Nordica/Nordica/
7 Yule, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
8 Feller, Head/Head/Head
9 Myhrer, Nordica/Nordica/
10 Herbst, Fischer/Fischer
10 Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica
Men’s World Cup slalom, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 24, 2014. … It is the 20th of 34 races on the men’s World Cup schedule. … The sixth of nine scheduled slaloms. . … The race was rescheduled from Sunday Jan. 26 because of the weather forecast. … It is held in a heavy snowfall with the second run under the lights. … It is the opening race of the 74th Hahnenkamm. … It is the 153rd World Cup race hosted at least in part at Kitzbuehel. … The 48th slalom.
It is the eighth World Cup win for Felix Neureuther and his second at Kitzbuehel eclipsing his father’s record at the site. … He also matches his father (Christian) for fourth most German World Cup slalom wins. Both he and Maria Hoefl-Riesch win for Germany on the day.
It is a career-best result, and the third career World Cup podium for Henrik Kristoffersen… all three of them coming this season.
It is the third career World Cup podium for Patrick Thaler, all in slalom. … It is his second at Kitzbuehel… and second of the season.
Michael Janyk matches his fourth career-best slalom result at Kitzbuehel, an identical placing to last season. … It is his best result of the season. … It is the third slalom score of the season for Ted Ligety and his second best finish of the season in slalom. … It is the first score of the season for Nolan Kasper. … It is the third time he has scored at Kitzbuehel in slalom.
Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 757-735 over Marcel Hirscher. … Alexis Pinturault (fourth in race) holds third overall with 556pts. … Neureuther moves into fourth and Ted Ligety drops to fifth with 449pts. … Bode Miller is ninth with 309pts. … Erik Guay leads Canada in 14th overall with 261pts.
Hirscher holds the lead of the slalom standings 340-310 over Neureuther. … Mattias Hargin (sixth in race) is third with 273pts. … David Chodounsky (DNF 1st) is 18th in slalom with 84pts. … Janyk leads Canada in 27th with 47pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3123-2166 over France. … Italy is third with 1904pts. … The U.S. is sixth with 1160pts and Canada ninth with 689pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|Disqualified 2nd run|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|50||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|29||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|76||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|