Everyone remembers their first. Their first bike, their first love, their first heartbreak. Switzerland’s Daniel Yule was able to add one more first to his resume on Saturday evening after he took his first World Cup win under the lights in the classic night slalom in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
One of the more storied venues on the men’s Tour, Madonna has played host to World Cup racing since 1967 and provides an atmosphere that rivals those found at the classic Swiss and Austrian slalom stops later on in January. Italian legend, Alberto Tomba, took the first of his 50 World Cup wins at the venue when he won the slalom in 1987.
Could Yule’s win be the coming out party for another World Cup superstar? Only time will tell, but the young Swiss men’s slalom team has made waves on the World Cup recently with Yule, Loic Meillard, Ramon Zenhaeusern, and Luca Aerni all earning podiums in the discipline over the past two season with an average age of only 24-and-half.
Yule sat in a solid fourth place after the first run, 0.66 seconds behind race leader, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher. As we have seen in Madonna in years past, it is not uncommon for racers with an early start position in run number two to make huge jumps in the standings, with Saturday being no different. Yule managed to limit his second-run losses and come down with the lead ahead of Austria’s Michael Matt, who sat 13th after run one, with only eventual second-place finisher, Marco Schwarz of Austria, and slalom titans Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway and Hirscher left to go.
After Schwarz slid into second place between Yule and Matt, things really got interesting. Kristoffersen, who has not won a World Cup slalom since taking the title in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last season, was eager to end his drought and left the gate with so much intensity that he straddled the second gate and skied out. Hirscher did not last too much longer himself, straddling the fifth gate and hiking to finish 26th overall.
“It’s unbelievable,” Yule said in the finish. “Last year I was fourth here, seven-hundredths behind Marcel, who won. This year, to turn it around and stand on the top of the podium is unbelievable. I don’t think I can believe it yet.”
The second run was set by Swiss technical coach, Matteo Joris, and paid off in spades for Yule, who gave credit where credit is due in his post-race interview.
“I think I need to say a big thanks to Matteo, especially, because he set the second run so I think he did a pretty good job and then all the rest of the staff, my ski man, everybody at Fischer who has believed in me the past few years, it’s just been great fun to work and I’m having fun skiing at the moment and that’s just unbelievable,” he added. “I love all night races, especially Madonna. The public, the atmosphere, it’s always so much fun. It’s a great slalom hill, steep, and to be able to win here is just unbelievable.”
It was Schwarz’s first podium appearance since finishing third in the slalom in Yuzawa Naeba, Japan, in March of 2016. Schwarz’s first World Cup podium came in Madonna in 2015.
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium,” Schwarz said. “It was a long time. The last time was three years ago and I’m really happy. I heard that Daniel was in the lead so I though to myself, ‘Push very hard and have a good run.'”
Matt managed to charge from thirteenth place after the first run to finish in third, perfectly illustrating the unpredictable nature of Saturday’s second run.
“I just think in the second run, you had to ski more technical,” Matt shared. “The first run was more straight and it was a very tight race so I’m very happy with third place.”
Other noteworthy jumps on Saturday included Great Britain’s Dave Ryding, who launched from 27th to fourth in the second run. Italy’s Giuliano Razzoli, who is also the 2010 Olympic slalom gold medalist, went from bib 69 to finish fifth overall. Croatia’s Istok Rodes also jumped from bib 66 to finish in seventh, Slovenia’s Zan Kranjec went 77 to 11th, and Canada’s Trevor Philp went from bib 52 to finish 12th. In total, 14 racers from outside of the first 30 starters scored points, with six finishing in the top 15.
The Americans, however, could not get in on the party as Mark Engel, Hig Roberts, and Luke Winters did not qualify for the second run and River Radamus did not finish his first.
The men’s Tour is now off for the holidays before resuming racing with downhill and super-G races in Bormio, Italy, Dec. 28-29.
1. Daniel Yule (SUI)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
2. Marco Schwarz (AUT)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Michael Matt (AUT)- Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
4. Dave Ryding (GBR)- Dynastar/Lange/Look
5. Guiliano Razzoli (ITA)- Voelkl/Lange/Marker
6. Manfred Moelgg (ITA)- Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
7. Istok Rodes (CRO)- Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
8. Felix Neureuther (GER)- Nordica/Nordica/Marker
9. Victor Muffat-Jeandet (FRA)- Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
9. Alexis Pinturault (FRA)- Head/Head/Head
For complete FIS results, please click here.