KITZBUEHEL, Austria – Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen found himself in an unusual position heading into the second run of slalom down Kitzbuehel’s Ganslern slope. After some uncharacteristic mistakes in the first run, Kristoffersen sat in 12th place, 0.83 seconds back of first run leader Fritz Dopfer of Germany.
The Norwegian sensation decided that it was all or nothing in the second run and skied like a man possessed, proceeding to make short work off the difficult set and take yet another slalom victory with a total time of 1:43.96 seconds. Hot on Kristoffersen’s heels, however, was Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, a razor-slim 0.03 seconds back in second place. Dopfer had to settle for third place on the day, his first trip to the podium this season.
Sunday’s win makes Kristoffersen the first person in history to win the classic slaloms of Adelboden, Wengen, and Kitzbuehel in a single season. In fact, he has won all but one of the slaloms contested this year. With another classic on Tuesday night in Schladming, a classic sweep is certainly in Kristoffersen’s wheelhouse.
“I had to (believe I could win),” Kristoffersen said in the finish. “I actually did because eight-tenths on this hill it’s not a lot and I had an earlier bib than all the other guys who were short in front. … I think this is one of the best second runs I’ve ever done in my entire life. Seriously? Are you kidding me? That was insane.”
“Another dream come true, for sure,” he continued. “Marcel is so strong. I thought that Marcel was possibly going to beat me. That was close, it was only three hundredths, not a lot. It’s a huge fight for the moment, but I’m enjoying it. If he would have beaten me by three hundredths today, I think I would have been pretty happy.”
After the morning’s run, Hirscher certainly smelled blood in the water, although he himself had a bit of ground to make up, as he sat in fourth, 0.34 seconds behind Dopfer. Crossing the line second run just 0.03 seconds in the red was likely a little deflating, but with how Kristofersen’s form has been this season, second place just might be the best anyone can hope for.
“Being part of the podium here in Kitzbuehel is always a really great feeling,” Hirscher explained. “For sure, my first reaction was, ‘Ahh, come on! Once again, this little kid from Norway!’ I am really impressed with his skiing and he reminds me of the years when I was on the top of my game. I think Henrik is in the place where he can win seven, eight, nine slalom races this season.”
Kristoffersen sees a long future ahead of him, even after he put himself in a challenging position to claim the day’s victory.
“I’m not that old yet so I hope I’ll keep going for maybe nine, 10, 11, 12 more years, and we’ll see. You can’t expect to win them all, but at least you can try,” he said.
A season of struggles for Dopfer was for the moment turned around as the German made it to the podium for the first time this winter, boosting his confidence heading into the latter part of the year.
“I am pretty happy, especially first run was amazing,” he said. “Second run was also really good. It was pretty tough in the second run. The slope conditions changed a lot, it was just a real fight. I am really happy and confident with third place.”
“(Kristoffersen) is I think at the moment the best slalom skier together with Marcel,” he added about his podium mates. “So I am third after the two best slalom skiers, I can be really proud.”
David Chodounsky led the way for the Americans in 11th place. Chodounsky has had some stellar first runs of late, but due to bad luck and reasons still unknown, has struggled to find the speed he knows he is capable of in the second run.
“The result is actually not too bad, 11th, which is nice to get more points,” he explained. “I’m not that stoked though with the day. First run felt really good, eighth place. I don’t know, I was just a little out of whack second run. I was losing some grip up top, it was weird. I just have to refocus and bring it to Schladming.”
Michael Ankeny also found the points for the second time this season, finishing a solid 19th in a rough and tumble day for the whole field. Vermonter Tim Kelley finished in 21st, although a straddle in the second run forced him to hike and his combined time was too far off the winning pace to be eligible for World Cup points.
Also of note was the performance of Norwegian and 2013 NCAA champion Jonathan Nordbotten. The former University of Vermont skier laid down a smoking second run and catapulted himself from 24th all the way up to sixth place, 1.48 seconds behind his countryman, for a career-best result on the World Cup circuit. The result couldn’t have come at a better time as it moves Nordbotten back inside the top 30 after he started the race with bib 51.
Italian slalom specialist Giuliano Razzoli, who finished on the podium last week in Wengen, was first out of the gate in run one today, but he crashed on the course and had to be evacuated from the slope. Doctors suspect he sustained a torn ACL in his left knee, so he will return home to Italy for surgery.
The men now travel to Schladming, Austria, for the legendary night slalom on Tuesday, with racing action set to begin at 5:45 p.m. CET.
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By Hank McKee
1. Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
2. Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
3. Dopfer, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
4. Hargin, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
5. Thaler, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
6. Nordbotten, Head/Head/Head
7. Hirschbuehl, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
7. Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
9. Schwarz, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
10. Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Men’s World Cup Slalom, Kitzbuehel, Austria, Jan. 24, 2016. … It is the fourth and final event of the 76th Hahnekamm. … It is the 23rd race of the men’s 45 race World Cup schedule and the sixth slalom of the season, but the seventh of 11 on the schedule with the first having been cancelled. … It is the 50th World Cup slalom hosted by Kitzbuehel. … Mattias Hargin is the defending champion. …
- It is the ninth career World Cup win for Henrik Kristoffersen. … His fifth in slalom of the season. … It is his eighth Cup slalom win making him the all-time leader in slalom wins for Norway, besting the mark of seven from Finn Christian Jagge. … Winning margin is .03 of a second. … Top four are within the same second. … Top 11 within two seconds
- It is the 82nd career World Cup podium for Marcel Hirscher. … His third second place finish at Kitzbuehel, (two in slalom one in combined). … It is his fourth second place finish in slalom this season.
- It is the ninth career World Cup podium for Fritz Dopfer. … His first of the season.
- It is the best Kitzbuehel finish for David Chodounsky and matches his seventh best career result. … It is his third best finish of the season. … It is the career best Cup result for Trevor Philp and his sixth score of the season. … It is the second career score and personal best finish for Michael Ankeny. … Tim Kelley registers a 21st place finish but receives no points due to the length of time he finishes behind the winner.
- Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) holds the lead of the World Cup overall standings 916-889 over Marcel Hirscher (second in race). … Kristoffersen is third with 771pts. … Kristoffersen leads the slalom standings 580-420 over Hirscher. … Neureuther (seventh in race) is third at 223pts. … Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 3235-2817 over Norway. … France in third with 2677pts. … The US is fifth at 1332pts 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|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|42||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|81||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|77||491853||DEL CAMPO Juan||1994||SPA|
|60||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|