Slalom skiing or powder skiing? At times it looked like both on Sunday for the slalom in Kitzbuehel, Austria. Steady precipitation throughout the day made for ultra-challenging conditions as the men took on arguably the toughest slalom hill on the World Cup.
When all was said and done, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen was finally able to break through and secure his first victory of the season after finishing on the podium in every other slalom race this year. Kristoffersen and Austria’s Michael Matt ran away with the first run and sat nearly an entire second ahead of the rest of the field going into the second run. With Matt skiing out midway down his afternoon run, it was Kristoffersen’s race to lose.
“It’s pretty cool,” a composed Kristoffersen said after the race. “I’m really happy about today. If you take away the two dual slalom races, it’s 10 podiums in 11 (slalom and giant slalom) races so it’s not too bad, it’s seven podiums in seven slalom races so I can’t complain too much.”
Austrian defending champion Marcel Hirscher was able to muster a second-place finish after a lackluster (by his standards) opening run and Switzerland’s Daniel Yule landed on his first World Cup podium in third with some inspired skiing in the second run.
“I am super happy with the second place for today,” Hirscher said. “First run was definitely not what I was expecting; Henrik and Michael Matt were definitely one class better than the rest of the field. I’m absolutely happy with the second run, that was good skiing but way too far behind Henrik so I think he deserved this victory today.”
This year in slalom has undoubtedly been the Hirscher and Kristoffersen show, and Yule was more than pleased to find himself on the podium behind two racers at the top of their game.
“If I could have chosen any place to get my first podium, I think Kitzbuehel would be pretty high on the list,” Yule shared after the race. “I think today I can count as the first human behind the two aliens, Marcel and Henrik. I think they’re just skiing at such a high level at the moment in slalom that for me, this third place counts as a win.”
David Chodounsky led the Americans in 15th place on an otherwise tough day for the Stars and Stripes. After throwing his back out last week in Wengen, Switzerland, there was some doubt as to whether Chodounsky would even be healthy enough to start. Thankfully, some much-needed physiotherapy in the days leading up to the race was able to loosen his back up enough to make the most of Sunday’s race.
“After the rough January that I’ve had, it’s my first finish since December so I’m really happy,” said Chocounsky. “I stuck to my game plan and did what I wanted. I definitely could have pushed a little more that second run but had a solid run, 15th place, top 15, not bad. There’s another race coming up so this is just a confidence boost, a little builder to get some World Cup points and make sure I’m still in the top 30 so I can go hammer. I had plenty in reserve today; it’s just good, solid skiing and that was my game plan so I came out here and did what I had to do so I’m happy with that.”
Mark Engel and AJ Ginnis did not qualify for a second run and Nolan Kasper and Hig Roberts did not finish their first runs making Chodounsky the only American finisher.
The men now head to Schladming, Austria, for more slalom in the iconic Night Race on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
1. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Daniel Yule (SUI) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
4. Victor Muffat-Jeandet (FRA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
5. Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
6. Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
7. Jonathan Nordbotten (NOR) – Head/Head/Head
8. Clement Noel (FRA) – Dynastar/Lange/Look
9. Dave Ryding (GBR) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
9. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|12||18||421669||NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||57.56||53.95||1:51.51||+3.02||20.04||22|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|76||960300||GOUTT Yohan Goncalves||1994||TLS||1:15.19||0|
|74||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL||1:04.74||0|
|66||491853||DEL CAMPO Juan||1994||ESP||1:00.13||0|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|75||170151||DYRBYE NAESTED Casper||1996||DEN||0|
|Disqualified 1st run|