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Hirscher cool under pressure, takes first slalom win in Levi

Hirscher held his lead through both runs in Levi (GEPA/Mario Kneisl)

Hirscher won both runs in Levi (GEPA/Mario Kneisl)

Facing enough pressure to turn coal into diamonds, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher produced a gem of a set of slalom runs in Levi, Finland today (Nov. 17) to get his first win above the Arctic Circle. In the process, he displayed his full intent to defend both the slalom crown and the World Cup overall title this season. He also won a reindeer in the process which he promptly named “Ferdinand” after his father and coach.

Despite winning nine World Cup slalom races over the past two seasons, Hirscher had never won in Levi. He has remained dominant in slalom, however. The win was his 15th straight slalom podium.

“It’s not easy to be in the role of a favorite. It is definitely not an easy job… I’m really happy today,” he said.

Hirscher said the flat at Levi is a bit misleading. “The flat piece is certainly long, but the steep part is often underestimated. Levi is not only flat, there are just contrarian route parts.”

German star Felix Neureuther, second after the first run, never found the groove in his second run as he moved a little too aggressively, got hung up, and managed a full somersault on course. However, he never missed a gate and completed the course in 27th, three seconds slower than anyone else.

The rest of the podium was a contrast, at least in age, as 35-year-old Austrian veteran Mario Matt placed second and Norway’s 19-year-old relative newcomer Henrik Kristoffersen was third overpowering the lower, steeper third of the course. It was a career-best result and the first World Cup podium for Kristoffersen whose previous top result was 11th in Levi last year. Additionally, it was the first World Cup slalom podium result for Norway since 2004. Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, in fourth, was 1.22 seconds off Hirscher’s pace.

Kristoffersen was plenty happy to have made a World Cup podium, but said, “It as a big step in the right direction, but I have a long way to go.”

Former Norwegian great Hans Petter Buraas, Olympic gold medalist in slalom, told the Norwegian press, “It was damn cool to see that Henry came to the podium. Not only Henry, but we have all three pieces in the top 15 with Leif Kristian Haugen and Sebastian-Foss Solevaag. Now it’s just for Henry to stay focused ahead and work towards the goals and dreams he has. He will get more attention, new friends and a lot of things for such a result. I guess he’s pretty sensible. He is a very down to earth guy who has his feet on the ground.”

University of Vermont skier Jonathan Nordbotten also represented Norway and placed ahead of the tumbling gymnast Neureuther. Nordbotten said the course conditions were good, but he observed, “You had to give full gas from top to bottom.”

Nobody gave full gas quite like Hirscher. The lone American scoring points was Ted Ligety, who powered from 24th to ultimately finish 11th with the sixth fastest second run.

“I wouldn’t say that either run was all that impressive, but second run I skied a little bit more like I should be skiing from run to run. But it’s still far from what I need to be doing in slalom,” noted Ligety. “Levi’s a drag race. It’s the easiest course on the World Cup by far so the margins are super tight and the little mistakes cost you a ton of time. It makes it difficult to be one of the fastest guys because you really pay when you are a little bit off.”

Although the result was less stellar than his Soelden premier, Ligety still picked up points in his quest for the overall title. However, he knows he needs to score better in slalom to keep that goal within reach.

“I need to be scoring in the top five to top three. I need to up it if this is going to be a meaningful route to getting me enough points (to win the overall World Cup title). I guess it’s not a horrible day to start out the slalom season,” he reasoned.

In his first World Cup race since a 2011 knee injury that required two surgeries and kept him off skis for 650 days, France’s Julien Lizeroux showed he still has the touch after battling from start number 63 to finish 17th. The only North American other than Ligety to qualify for second run was Canada’s Mike Janyk, who finished 20th.

“It was okay but I didn’t have that sensation on the snow where I could really let it rip. I pushed to the end, and I will build from here,” said Janyk.

A three-way tie for 30th in the first run meant that 32 athletes started in the second run. American Colby Granstrom was the first skier to miss the cut, just five hundredths of a second out from qualifying. In his first race back on the World Cup in over a year, Nolan Kasper struggled and would not have qualified for the second run anyway, but he was disqualified for using skis that were deemed illegal during the equipment check after first run. 

View our gallery from today’s race here.

 

The Scoop

World Cup, Men’s Slalom, Levi, Finland, Nov. 17, 2013

Equipment - Skier, skis/boots/bindings

1 Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic

2 Matt, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker

3 Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

4 Kostelic, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer

5 Hargin, Nordica/Nordica

6 Thaler, Nordica/Nordica/Marker

7 Grange, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol

8 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic

9 Solevaag, Volkl//Marker

10 Missillier, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon

World Cup, Men’s Slalom, Levi, Finland, Nov. 17, 2013.… It is the second race of 34 races on the men’s 2013-14 World Cup Tour… the first of nine scheduled slaloms.… It is the 16th World Cup race hosted at Levi, all of them slaloms… the second in two days.… Three men, Adam Zampa, Naoki Yuasa and Francois Place, tie for 30th, lengthening the second run by two starters.

It is the 19th career World Cup win for Marcel Hirscher… his 11th in slalom, placing him third on the Austrian career slalom win list behind Benjamin Raich’s 14 and Mario Matt’s 13. It is his first win at Levi, though he did place second at the site last season.

It is the 40th World Cup podium of Mario Matt’s career… his 38th in slalom.… His previous best at Levi had been third in 2008.

It is a career-best World Cup placing for Henrik Kristoffersen, his previous best having been 11th, scored at Levi a season ago (Nov. 11, 2o12).

It is a career-best result at Levi for Ted Ligety, topping a 13th from last season.… It is also a career-best Levi result for Michael Janyk, his previous best a 14th in 2009.

Hirscher takes control of the overall standings 160-124 over Ligety.… Matt and Alexis Pinturault are tied for third with 80pts each.… Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 369-337 over France with Norway third at 173pts.… The U.S. is fourth at 147.… Canada is 13th with 11 points.

 

Results — Levi Men’s World Cup Slalom

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time FIS Points
 1  5  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  52.80  52.62  1:45.42  0.00
 2  7  50707 MATT Mario 1979 AUT  53.11  52.93  1:46.04  3.65
 3  20  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR  53.45  52.90  1:46.35  5.47
 4  3  380260 KOSTELIC Ivica 1979 CRO  53.51  53.13  1:46.64  7.18
 5  8  501111 HARGIN Mattias 1985 SWE  53.51  53.20  1:46.71  7.59
 6  18  290732 THALER Patrick 1978 ITA  53.46  53.69  1:47.15  10.17
 7  22  192665 GRANGE Jean-Baptiste 1984 FRA  53.77  53.40  1:47.17  10.29
 8  13  50625 RAICH Benjamin 1978 AUT  53.70  53.51  1:47.21  10.53
 9  55  422082 SOLEVAAG Sebastian-Foss 1991 NOR  53.98  53.26  1:47.24  10.70
 10  14  192506 MISSILLIER Steve 1984 FRA  53.75  53.61  1:47.36  11.41
 11  16  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA  54.17  53.21  1:47.38  11.53
 12  2  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER  53.53  53.95  1:47.48  12.12
 13  9  50605 HERBST Reinfried 1978 AUT  54.05  53.57  1:47.62  12.94
 14  37  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK  54.38  53.27  1:47.65  13.12
 15  34  421669 HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR  53.80  53.88  1:47.68  13.29
 16  11  293797 GROSS Stefano 1986 ITA  54.16  53.58  1:47.74  13.64
 17  63  191459 LIZEROUX Julien 1979 FRA  54.37  53.57  1:47.94  14.82
 18  15  500656 LARSSON Markus 1979 SWE  53.77  54.26  1:48.03  15.35
 19  19  301709 YUASA Naoki 1983 JPN  54.38  53.75  1:48.13  15.94
 20  27  102435 JANYK Michael 1982 CAN  54.37  53.81  1:48.18  16.23
 21  26  480736 KHOROSHILOV Alexander 1984 RUS  54.29  53.91  1:48.20  16.35
 21  17  293098 RAZZOLI Giuliano 1984 ITA  54.05  54.15  1:48.20  16.35
 23  59  193334 RIVAS Gabriel 1986 FRA  54.19  54.13  1:48.32  17.06
 24  43  180703 PALONIEMI Santeri 1993 FIN  54.11  54.29  1:48.40  17.53
 25  51  501116 LAHDENPERAE Anton 1985 SWE  54.09  54.38  1:48.47  17.94
 26  32  421860 NORDBOTTEN Jonathan 1989 NOR  54.30  54.25  1:48.55  18.41
 27  4  201702 NEUREUTHER Felix 1984 GER  53.02  58.73  1:51.75  37.23
Disqualified 1st run
   29  532138 KASPER Nolan 1989 USA        
Did not qualify for 2nd run
   82  430617 CHRAPEK Adam 1993 POL        
   81  180722 KUUKKA Justus 1994 FIN        
   80  180731 DAHL Juho 1994 FIN        
   79  180718 HENTTINEN Jens 1993 FIN        
   78  30149 SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier 1980 ARG        
   75  481148 MAYTAKOV Sergei 1990 RUS        
   74  511908 SCHMIDIGER Reto 1992 SUI        
   73  550054 ZVEJNIEKS Kristaps 1992 LAT        
   72  60160 ALAERTS Kai 1989 BEL        
   70  303696 KONO Kyosuke 1991 JPN        
   69  150594 TREJBAL Filip 1985 CZE        
   67  501401 SAXVALL Per 1989 SWE        
   66  6290183 RONCI Giordano 1992 ITA        
   65  320266 JUNG Dong-hyun 1988 KOR        
   64  300804 MINAGAWA Kentaro 1977 JPN        
   62  511896 MURISIER Justin 1992 SUI        
   61  511996 YULE Daniel 1993 SUI        
   57  193967 MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor 1989 FRA        
   56  102239 COUSINEAU Julien 1981 CAN        
   54  530165 BRANDENBURG Will 1987 USA        
   53  202437 LUITZ Stefan 1992 GER        
   50  220689 RYDING David 1986 GBR        
   49  380290 SAMSAL Dalibor 1985 CRO        
   47  511127 GINI Marc 1984 SUI        
   45  511902 ZENHAEUSERN Ramon 1992 SUI        
   44  192504 MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas 1984 FRA        
   41  930105 GRANSTROM Colby 1990 USA        
   40  102912 SPENCE Brad 1984 CAN        
   39  511983 AERNI Luca 1993 SUI        
   38  194212 THOULE Nicolas 1990 FRA        
   36  50981 HOERL Wolfgang 1983 AUT        
   35  301312 SASAKI Akira 1981 JPN        
   33  102727 STUTZ Paul 1983 CAN        
   31  54063 FELLER Manuel 1992 AUT        
   30  294890 NANI Roberto 1988 ITA        
   25  534508 CHODOUNSKY David 1984 USA        
   24  291145 DEVILLE Cristian 1981 ITA        
   23  560355 VALENCIC Mitja 1978 SLO        
   21  511174 VOGEL Markus 1984 SUI        
   10  50624 PRANGER Manfred 1978 AUT        
   1  501017 MYHRER Andre 1983 SWE        
Did not finish 2nd run
   60  193986 PLACE Francois 1989 FRA        
   52  201891 SCHMID Philipp 1986 GER        
   28  501223 BAECK Axel 1987 SWE        
   12  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA        
   6  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA        
Did not finish 1st run
   77  53922 WIESER Manuel 1990 AUT        
   76  303097 ISHII Tomoya 1989 JPN        
   71  54170 MATT Michael 1993 AUT        
   68  180627 MALMSTROM Victor 1991 FIN        
   58  561148 SKUBE Matic 1988 SLO        
   48  103676 BROWN Philip 1991 CAN        
   46  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE        
   42  291318 TONETTI Riccardo 1989 ITA        

Hank McKee

Senior Editor

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