One error at the most inopportune time cost Marcel Hirscher his first win at Wengen and paved the way for Frenchman Alexis Pinturault to secure his second-career slalom win. German Felix Neureuther claimed second and Hirscher had to settle for third.
It was the fourth time in World Cup history a Frenchman won the Wengen slalom, the first since Jean-Baptist Grange roared through the 2008 season.
After the first run, most expected Hirscher to wrap up the win on the Maennlichen/Jungfrau slopes. He carried a .23 of a second lead over Swede Andre Myhrer with Neureuther third .64 back and Mario Matt another two tenths back. Pinturault was only seventh after the first run and sat .88 behind Hirscher. It was not the scenario he had hoped for. But it all changed dramatically with the second run.
The French held two of the top three positions when Pinturault skied, and he raced with confidence and little pressure, extending his lead throughout his run and turning up the jets down the last steep where a long flush above the finish waited to catch many of the competitors. “Pintu” finished with a .86 lead and tentatively took his position in the leaders’ box to watch the six fastest of the morning challenge has time.
Matt, already assured a spot on the Austrian Olympic team due to his early season successes, was skiing well and comfortably when the tricky course and perhaps a patch of soft snow caught him off guard and required an amazingly athletic recovery just to stay on course. Perhaps sensing he needed to do more than required, Matt pressed hard, finishing second, three quarters of a second back.
Neureuther worked well with his first run lead and even built upon it, but seemed to get a bit conservative, particularly on the final section where his time slipped back.
Myhrer had lost all of his advantage by the third interval timer and drained away ever more quickly until he came through the finish line .81 off the Frenchman and into fifth place.
That left only Hirscher, who until today has shown no weakness over the past two seasons. He lost ground fractionally along the length of the course, then lost pressure on his ski just above the flush on the final pitch, a gasp audible from the thousands watching at Wengen. He recovered and worked through to the finish but too much damage had been sustained. He finished behind both Pinturault and Neureuther for third place, more than a half second back.
Pinturault leapt into the finish area, dancing to the throb of the large crowd’s roar.
The win was the fifth of his career and the second in slalom.
The only American to gain a second run was Bode Miller, the 26th finisher at the end of the day. It was his first time back in the slalom points since 2011.
“Today was good for a few reasons. It was good to see Bode back in the slalom points and we added another quota spot in slalom, which is something we’ve been struggling to get. It’s also another full race run for him which helps as we get ready for Kitzbuehel and the Olympics,” said head men’s coach Sasha Rearick. “Ted was skiing fast when he got shot out at the bottom of a flush, he got back in the course and finished, but lost way too much time to make the final. Daver [Chodounsky] was also skiing really well when a flukey thing happened. A gate snapped down on his tips causing them to cross and him to crash. It’s a tough one for him because he’s been skiing really well and had a shot at getting into the top 15 in slalom.”
Canada’s Michael Janyk finished 23rd as the only other North American in the second run.
To view photos from this race click here.
Men’s World Cup slalom, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 19, 2014
Equipment – Skier, skis/boots/bindings
1 Pinturault, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
3 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5 Thaler, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6 Myhrer, Nordica/Nordica/
7 Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/
8 Grange, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9 Missillier, Dynastar/Lange/Look
10 Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
Men’s World Cup slalom, Wengen, Switzerland, Jan. 19, 2014. … It is the 19th of 34 races on the men’s World Cup schedule. … The fifth of nine scheduled slaloms. … Part of the 84th Lauberhorn. … It is the 101st World Cup race hosted by Wengen… the 35th slalom.
It is the fifth career World Cup win for Alexis Pinturault, his second in slalom after a Dec. 8, 2012 win at Val d’Isere. … It is his second win at Wengen having claimed the 2012 combined. … He joins Jean-Claude Killy, Patrick Russel, Jean-Noel Augert and Jean Baptiste Grange as French who have won the slalom at Wengen in the World Cup era and Guy Perillat pre-World Cup. … It is the first win of the season for Pinturault though he has recorded three second-place finishes.
It is the 24th career World Cup podium for Felix Neureuther, the 19th in slalom. … He won the Wengen slalom last season. … It is his third podium of the season, all gained in January.
It is the 54th career World Cup podium for Marcel Hirscher… his ninth of the season in ten completed races. He has been on the podium in four of five slaloms and five of five GS’s.
It is he sixth best career result at Wengen for Michael Janyk… his third scoing result of the season, all of them finishes in the 20’s. … It is the eighth career slalom scoring finish at Wengen for Bode Miller. … His first slalom result of the season. … It is his first slalom result since 2011.
Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) maintains the lead of the World Cup overall atandings 757-735 over Marcel Hirscher. … Alexis Pinturault moves into third overall with 506pts, bumping Ted Ligety (DSQ 1st run in race) to fourth with 433pts. … Bode Miller is eighth with 309pts. … Erik Guay (did not race) is top Canadian overall in tenth with 261pts.
Hirscher maintains control of he slalom standings 340-250 over Mario Matt (fourth in race). … Mattias Hargin (18th in race) is third in the slalom standings with 233pts. … David Chodounsky (DNF 1st) is top U.S. skier in slalom standings in 16th with 84pts. … Janyk leads the Canadians in 27th with 29pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3053-2116 over France. … Italy is third with 1835pts. … The U.S. men rank sixth with 1131pts and Canada ninth with 671pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|65||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|48||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|27||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|