Henrik Kristoffersen: King of the Classics
SCHLADMING, Austria – It was another come-from-behind win for the Attacking Vikings as Henrik Kristoffersen claimed his sixth slalom victory in seven races this season, charging from third position after the first run to claim the Schladming Night Slalom with a total time of 1:42.20 seconds. Austrian superstar Marcel Hirscher charged all the way from 22nd place after the first run to claim second, 0.61 seconds back. Last year’s champion, Alexander Khoroshilov of Russia, rounded out the podium in third, 0.77 seconds behind.
After Germany’s Felix Neureuther put on a slalom clinic by winning the first run by 0.53 seconds over Italy’s Stefano Gross, the stage was set for a battle of epic proportions as Kristoffersen sat fourth, 1.10 seconds back and Hirscher in an unusual 22nd, 2.59 seconds off the pace. Deteriorating conditions were anticipated for the second run as temperatures rose throughout the day to nearly 40 degrees Fahrenheit by race time.
Neureuther looked to be on the verge of his first win of the season before straddling a gate on his second run within sight of the finish line. The German exited the course, slid to a stop, and sat in the snow, only to watch the announcement of the winners in the finish area. Heartbreak.
Kristoffersen has been nearly untouchable this season in slalom, proving that he is the new man to beat race after race, managing to win in just about every way imaginable. He’s held the first run lead, he’s come from behind, and he’s wowed fans with near disaster, but he’s come out on top all but once. Tonight was no different.
“There was this Austrian guy in the start box shouting, ‘Ah, Marcel is still in the lead!’ so that was a little annoying,” Kristoffersen said about the mood before his run. “With the way I’m skiing at the moment, I knew that if I skied OK without too many big mistakes, it would be possible. It was really bumpy, but the bottom part was actually pretty good, I could ski pretty normal there, but the top was really rutted. I knew I had to push it the whole way, and now we’re standing here.”
With Tuesday’s win in Schladming, along with his wins in Madonna, Adelboden, Wengen, and Kitzbuehel, Kristoffersen has managed to win every classic slalom on the World Cup circuit in one season – a feat that has never before accomplished.
Hirscher was the victim of quite an unusual mishap during his first run as his goggle lens was put in improperly by his serviceman, causing it to fog up almost immediately after he kicked out of the gate. He looked noticeably off his game as he made his way down the course, and ultimately crossed the line much farther behind than anyone expected. However, skiing like a man with a clear mission, Hirscher managed to lay down the fastest second run time and leap to the runner-up position to the delight of the nearly 50,000 ski-crazed Austrians in attendance.
“It was a completely aggressive run,” Hirscher said of his inspired skiing. “I decided that it would be better to not finish than ending up with two points, for example. I tried my complete maximum to ski in the second run. Conditions were a bit challenging today and that helped me as well to make it possible. It is just a really big present I got today.”
For Khoroshilov, although unsuccessful in defending his title from last year, he was more than happy to land on the podium, especially with how fast Neureuther looked before the untimely exit.
“The course was really good, as every year, so I was really happy to ski here,” said the Russian. “If Felix didn’t go out, I would be fourth, so of course I am really happy with third place.”
The lone American finisher was David Chodounsky in 11th place. Chodounsky sat in fifth place after the first run and was poised for another top result like the fourth-place finish he had last month in Val d’Isere. Crossing the finish in the second run, the American was visibly disappointed after letting another opportunity for the podium slip through his fingers.
“I came out firing up top, I felt pretty good,” Chodounsky explained. “Down bottom, I don’t know if I just tightened up a little bit seeing the finish line or something, maybe. I just started skiing not great, and I felt it, I knew it was happening. I knew I was just grinding down here and losing time. But you know what, I’ve got to learn from all these things. I’m having great first runs and one of these times I’m going to put two of them together and it’s going to be pretty sweet.”
The men’s tour now moves to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for downhill and giant slalom races Jan. 28-31.
By Hank McKee
- Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Khoroshilov, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Stehle, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Gross, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
- Foss-Solvaag, Volkl/Dalbello/Marker
- Thaler, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Nordbotten, Head/Head/Head
- Digruber, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Men’s World Cup slalom, Schladming, Austria, Jan. 26, 2016. … THE Night Race. … It is the 24th race of the men’s 45 race 2016 World Cup schedule. … The eighth slalom on the schedule and the seventh of 11 to be held. … Schladming has been hosting THE Night Race since 1997, routinely attended by 40,000 to 50,000 fans. … It is the 23rd World Cup slalom hosted by Schladming. … Alexander Khoroshilov is the defending champion. … There are 83 on the start list.
- It is the 10th career World Cup win for Henrik Kristoffersen … his sixth of the season. … It is his second win at Schladming having gotten his first career win at the site in 2014. … The winning margin is 0.61 of a second. … Top three are within the same second. … Top 15 within two seconds.
It is the 83rd career World Cup podium for Marcel Hirscher and his 11th of the season. … It is his fourth career World Cup podium at Schladming. … He also collected the 2013 World slalom title at Schladming.
- It is the sixth career World Cup podium for Alexander Khoroshilov. … Five of the six are third-place finishes, the other is a first scored at Schladming last season. … It is his third podium finish of the season.
- It is the seventh best career finish for David Chodounsky and matches his third best finish of the season.
- Marcel Hirscher moves past Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race – injured) for the lead of the World Cup overall standings 969-916. … Kristoffersen is third with 871pts. …
- Kristoffersen leads the slalom standings 680-500 over Hirscher. … Khoroshilov is third ith 234pts. … Chodounsky is 10th with 149pts.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup standings 3341-2982 over Norway. … France is third at 2733. … The U.S. is fifth at 1356pts and Canada ninth at 403pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|Disqualified 2nd run|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|79||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|41||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|