That’s it, that’s all. The 2019 men’s World Cup season wrapped up on Sunday with the men’s slalom at World Cup Finals in Soldeu, Andorra, under blue skies and warm weather.
With the slalom and overall titles already secured by Austrian Superstar Marcel Hirscher prior to the week’s racing, the final two places on the overall slalom podium were up for grabs as well as bragging rights in the final slalom of the season. Much like in Saturday’s giant slalom, hot temperatures made for some interesting racing — especially in the second run — but conditions could not have been better considering the challenge course crews were faced with each afternoon.
21-year-old French phenom Clement Noel proved that he is the new man to watch in the discipline, distancing himself from the field by nearly a full second in the first run and skiing calm, cool, and collected in the difficult second run to claim the third World Cup victory of his young career with a two-run time of 1:48.96 seconds. Noel also won the prestigious slaloms in Wengen and Kitzbuehel back in January.
Austria’s Manuel Feller finished in second place thanks to some inspired skiing in the second run that saw him jump up from ninth place after the first run. Feller finished only 0.18 seconds back of Noel to tie his best ever World Cup finish. Third place went to Switzerland’s Daniel Yule, 0.83 seconds back.
“It’s really a perfect day,” Noel explained after the race. “The weather was really good, the slope and the conditions were perfect here and everyone was really excited, the crowd was really good and I’m really happy to finish this season like this. It’s a perfect way to end it and I’m really happy with all of this. I don’t know how to say more but this was a really great season with three victories and four podiums so that’s perfect and I didn’t expect to be fast like this but I always try to push hard and to be fast so it was a really, really great season.”
The second run saw many racers slide back in the standings thanks to the softening snow, steep finishing pitch, and difficult set. Noel scrapped his way through each section and looked to be in danger of losing his entire lead before stepping on the gas pedal one last time in the closing gates to eek out his win. With the victory, Noel jumped to second in the overall slalom standings behind Hirscher. Yule ended the season ranked in third.
“It was ok,” Noel said of his skiing in the second run. “I knew I had to push hard because everyone pushes hard in the second run and even one second is not that much, you can lose it really quick. It was a difficult second run, especially on the steep part because the snow was a little bit different than the first run and I did some mistakes but I managed to win the race. When that happens you don’t care how you ski, it’s not a problem.”
Slalom crystal globe winner Hirscher finished in an uncharacteristic 14th place after running into some trouble in the second run. The Austrian also collected his unprecedented eighth World Cup Overall title on Sunday.
“It is not fair to say that one title is more special than the other one,” Hirscher said. “I think every prize giving ceremony has its spirit, its own thoughts. All in all it is a great opportunity to think about all that happened in the last season.”
Speculation has swirled all season over Hirscher’s future in the sport as he has hinted several times at retirement. The 29-year-old was married last summer and he and his wife welcomed their first child into the world just prior to the World Cup season starting. To put it simply, Hirscher’s priorities in life are changing.
“I’m thinking about [retiring] every day and it will be a very hard decision that I have to make in the next weeks,” he explained. “We will see. This is the moment I am looking for, is it coming or not? For sure, 11 years, 10 years on the highest level being part of the first starting group in slalom and giant slalom, it costs you a lot of energy but it was worth it.”
The men’s World Cup is now off until the 2020 season kicks off with the traditional giant slalom opener in Soelden, Austria, in October.
- Clement Noel (FRA)- Dynastar/Lange/Look
- Manuel Feller (AUT)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Daniel Yule (SUI)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Giuliano Razzoli (ITA)- Voelkl/Lange/Marker
- Felix Neureuther (GER)- Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Alexi Pinturault (FRA)- Head/Head/Head
- Victor Muffat-Jeandet (FRA)- Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Istok Rodes (CRO)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
For complete FIS results, please click here.
For complete slalom standings, please click here.
For complete overall standings, please click here.