Having deja vu? That might be because the podium in Sunday’s slalom at Adelboden, Switzerland, was identical to that of the Zagreb World Cup on Jan. 4. Marcel Hirscher continued to dominate the discipline, earning his 52nd World Cup victory. The Austrian was accompanied on the podium by teammate Michael Matt in second place and Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway in third.
Hirscher’s victory, which he earned by a narrow 0.13 second margin, marked his fourth consecutive win in slalom. The last man do that was Kristoffersen in January 2016.
“Wow, it is really unbelievable. Always close decisions, and the clock is always for me on the right side…The last three races, or four races as well Madonna di Campiglio, were something really special,” Hirscher said.
Hirscher’s wins raised the question of the Olympic Winter Games, which are just a month away. Athletes often talk about the challenge of peaking at the right time in the season to have the best shot at a medal. Can Hirscher maintain this level of competition until February? Frankly, the Austrian is not looking that far ahead and does not let the Games change his approach to the season.
“I’m thinking about traveling home at the moment, and then further on to prepare for Wengen for the slalom, and Kitzbuehel and Schladming and Garmisch and Stockholm, and then think about the Olympics,” he said.
Matt, who earned his third consecutive second-place finish, is still hunting for his second World Cup victory after winning in Kranjska Gora last season. The Austrian is showing fans more consistency in 2018 and proved he is on the rise by earning a podium result at a venue where he has never earned World Cup points before. The Austrian also seems to enjoy the warmer temperatures that plagued Zagreb and then Adelboden, creating wetter, softer snow conditions that he could charge on.
“I know what skis I have to pick, what boots I have to pick in these snow conditions,” Matt shared. “Seems like it’s still fast.”
Kristoffersen, who rounded out the podium, has skied to the top three in every World Cup slalom this season, but has been unable to capture a victory. He said he struggled at the start of the season after focusing so much on giant slalom. Now, the Norwegian finds himself skiing fast but making costly mistakes that prevent him from taking the top spot. In the press conference, Kristoffersen seemed at a bit of a loss for why he has been stuck in second and third place.
“In the first run, I really don’t know why I was so slow,” Kristoffersen said. “Didn’t do any big mistakes. Didn’t ski bad. It was actually pretty okay skiing, so I’m really not sure. Second run started off with high tempo, good. Made a small mistake before the flat, so I thought the flat was going to slow. Last pitch from when you come around the corner before the real pitch, but the small pitch, too, I just said, ‘Whatever. I’m just gonna go,’ and I was really on the limit down there. I gained a lot of time there on both Marcel and Michael, but not enough.”
The Norwegian continued to say that it’s getting harder and harder to land on the podium. Challenges aside, Kristoffersen sits in second place in the slalom standings, 99 points behind Hirscher and 47 points ahead of Matt. The margins are tight enough that the Norwegian could claim another World Cup slalom globe under the right circumstances.
David Chodounsky was the lone American in the second run, but he straddled a hairpin and did not finish. AJ Ginnis and Mark Engel did not qualify for a second run while Robby Kelly and Hig Roberts did not finish the first run.
The men now shift back into speed mode with an alpine combined, downhill and slalom race at Wengen, Switzerland, from Jan. 12-14.
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Michael Matt (AUT) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Andre Mhyrer (SWE) – Head / Head / Head
- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
- Stefano Gross (ITA) – Voelkl / Marker / Tecnica
- Sebastian Foss-Solevaag (NOR) – Voelkl / Marker / Dalbello
- Loic Meillard (SUI) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Christian Hirschbuehl (AUT) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Linus Strasser (GER) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|24||21||421669||NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||58.81||55.29||1:54.10||+3.16||20.51||7|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|73||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL||1:07.45||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|Did not start 1st run|