The 80th-anniversary celebration of the Hahnenkamm races came to an end on Sunday, marked by yet another monumental moment in ski racing. Daniel Yule found the will and the power to win his third slalom race of the season, making him the only Swiss man to have ever won more than three slalom races in their career. Yule also became the first Swiss man to have won at the venue since 1968, when Dumeg Giavanoli earned the honor.
In the wake of the downhill, the slalom may seem to lack grandeur. But the crowds still came out by the thousands to cheer on the athletes and show their appreciation for the men racing on the tech side of the circuit. The Ganslern is yet another classic slalom stop on the tour. Races have been held on the same hill since 1937, and the track has become notorious for its terrain and various pitches. With the slalom field being so competitive in the 2019-20 season, it made for an exciting event.
“It was a really tight race, so in a way, there was only really one tactic, full gas. I made maybe a few small mistakes but I’m guessing on this hill everybody makes mistakes,” said Yule. “As a kid, one dreams about winning Kitzbuehel, it’s one of the legendary races. It’s maybe not the downhill but for us slalom skiers it’s definitely one of the most important races of the season, so to be able to get the win here today means the world to me.”
A win in Kitzbuehel also means the world to Swiss fans and the Swiss tech team. With Yule on top, the group continues to show their depth. Although Ramon Zenhauesern and Loic Meillard were absent from the day’s top 10, Reto Schmidiger finished in ninth, only the third top 10 finish of his career.
Going into the second run, the podium was any man’s game. Yule held the lead for the majority of the first run until Norway’s Lucas Braathen came charging down the Ganslern in bib 34 to take first, 0.33 seconds ahead of Yule. The 19-year-old has had a few top 10s so far this season, but no finish that has come close to the podium. Austria’s Adrian Pertl had a career-best as well, finishing in the top 10 for the first time in his career. Henrik Kristoffersen was edged off the podium, and Alexis Pinturault was nowhere to be found.
“I don’t think it’s a big surprise. The last few seasons we’ve saw the level in slalom is really tight,” said Yule. “Marcel somehow managed to win all the time. But today if you look at first run, the 30th guy was 1.40 seconds behind and that’s nothing. It’s not a big surprise that even some of the big guys sometimes have trouble some races.”
In the finish, Braathen was shocked, unsure if his time was incorrect. His game plan for the second run was to just try not to think about it too much, as he had never been the last man to ski down the course. A couple of mistakes led to a significant loss of time, not enough for the win, but maybe second or third. Braathen crossed the finish line in fourth, tied with his teammate Kristoffersen, 0.49 seconds back.
Braathen’s mistakes made room for Clement Noel to rise into podium standing. A blemished first run had Noel sitting in ninth, 0.78 seconds back off of Braathen’s pace. And while his second run was not what Noel would necessarily consider clean, it was surprisingly enough to get him on the podium.
“I didn’t think the podium was possible because there was quite a big gap for me after the first run, but you never know because it was really tight,” said Noel. “When I crossed the finish line I thought maybe fifth or fourth but to be on the podium is a really great surprise.”
Marco Schwarz also rose to the occasion to take second in the day’s race, much to the pleasure of the Austrian fans that made up a majority of the crowd. Schwarz had been battling injury coming into the season, and a podium finish in Adelboden helped him bring back the confidence needed to make it happen again. Although Schwarz has yet to win a slalom race in his career, he is overdue for one, having made the podium five times so far in his career. Sunday’s second is his first podium in Kitzbuehel.
“There are about 10 to 15 guys every race that can reach the podium and today us three are lucky,” said Schwarz.
There were multiple happy surprised by the end of the day, but not every racer benefitted from the stacked field. Americans Luke Winters and AJ Ginnis fell victim to the tight times. Both men had solid runs but finished just far enough on the edge of the 30 to not qualify for a second run. Ginnis finished 36th and Winters finished 37th his first go at the Kitzbuehel track. Their teammates Kyle Negomir and Ben Ritchie were amongst the 19 men that did not finish the first or second run.
“It’s so tight right now in World Cup slalom that you gotta be clean all the way down and also ski really well. We all know we have the speed, it’s just about getting in the starting gate and going from the top to the bottom clean and fast,” reflected Winters. “It’s another learning experience.”
In two days, the men will push out of the start gate in yet another Austrian spectacle, the Schladming night slalom. The event wraps the slalom January sprint before the men head to Chamonix at the beginning of February.
- 1. Daniel Yule (SUI): 1:41.50
- 2. Marco Schwarz (AUT): +0.12
- 3. Clement Noel (FRA): +0.37
- 4. Lucas Braathen (NOR): +0.49
- 4. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR): +0.49
- 6. Michael Matt (AUT): +0.52
- 7. Giuliano Razzoli (ITA): +0.53
- 8. Adrian Pertl (AUT): +0.73
- 9. Reto Schmidiger (SUI): +0.79
- 10. Sebastian Foss-Solevagg (NOR): +0.81
For full results, click here.