Today’s contest in France is why the FIS holds races. On paper it was a foregone conclusion that Marcel Hirscher would win the slalom at Val d’Isere, just as he had five of the last seven World Cup slaloms. But Hirscher hiked, finished more than four seconds off the pace and failed to make the flip for a second run, ending his consecutive slalom podium streak at ten.
Another fact many thought they knew was that a younger generation of racers had taken control of slalom. But the podium at Val d’Isere, where the steep, icy Face de Bellevarde was packed with a forest of slalom poles, featured a bunch of 30 and near 30-somethings at the top of the standings.
Winning was 34-year-old Mario Matt, a World Cup victor back in 2000. Second place went to Swede Matthias Hargin, 28. Italian Patrick Thaler, 35, was third and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Grange, 29, was fourth.
“It has been two years since my podiums in Zagreb and Schladming and I have been fighting a lot these last two years. It feels great to capitalize on that,” exclaimed Hargin. “This season we have a new coach, Rudi Soulard, and that change has been very important for me. We have the same way of thinking and we worked a lot on the setup, finding a way to help me ski smoother and not have it set up as aggressively as I used to do before.”
The grand news for the U.S. was not Ted Ligety, who was 3.59 seconds out after the first run and joined Hirscher on the sidelines. Nor was it Bode Miller, who exited the course roughly six gates in. The U.S. hero was Ivy Leaguer David Chodounsky, 15th after first run, who absolutely rocked the second run. Particularly on the second half of the hill, Chodounsky accelerated to grab a lead he maintained through six more competitors. Hargin finally knocked him back as the Swedes proceeded to put three into the top three positions before the more experienced athletes took final control. Chodounsky finished seventh. It is the best slalom finish for a U.S. male since Will Brandenburg was sixth at Kranjska Gora March 11, 2012. Aside from a fifth-place finish in last year’s Moscow City Event, it is also Chodounsky’s career-best result.
Matt became the oldest slalom winner of all time, topping the age of 33 previously registered by Finn Christian Jagge in 1999. It was Matt’s 15th World Cup win, and first in two plus seasons, the last coming March 6, 2011 at Kranjska Gora.
Matt was second (to Hirscher) in the slalom opener at Levi, Finland in November and has likely now secured his Olympic team spot.
“(It was) many, many years ago that I had such a good start, Levi second place and now first. It’s really incredible because on this hill here I had no luck before. I’m more than happy today,” Matt said. It was his 14th slalom win, matching Benjamin Raich for the most ever recorded by an Austrian male.
”I hope I can make more good results,” Matt said. “Slalom — it’s so tough, everybody is risking everything. It’s going really quick and then you are out or 10th place with one mistake, it’s not easy.”
After an impressive ninth-place finish in the first run from bib 56, Canada’s Julien Cousineau dropped back to 18th. The only other North American in the second run was his teammate Mike Janyk, who finished 21st.
See the photo gallery here.
Watch Matt’s winning run (available only in the U.S.)
Men’s World Cup Slalom, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 15, 2013
Equipment- Skier, skis/boots/bindings
5 Larsson, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
9 Raich, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
Men’s World Cup Slalom, Val d’Isere, France, Dec. 15, 2013. … It is the ninth of 34 races on the men’s 2013-14 World Cup schedule. … The second of nine scheduled slaloms. … It is the 58th annual Criterium de Premier Neige and the 161st World Cup event held at least in part at Val d’Isere. … It is just the tenth World Cup slalom at the site… fourth for men.
It is the 15th World Cup victory for Mario Matt, the 14th in slalom matching the Austrian men’s record held by Benjamin Raich. At 34 years eight months he becomes the oldest man to win a World Cup slalom, topping the mark set by Finn Christian Jagge in 1999. …It is his second podium of the season having placed second in the slalom opener at Levi, Finland Nov. 17.
It is a personal best World Cup placing for Mattias Hargin and his third podium having twice placed third in slaloms in January of 2011 (Zagreb and Schladming). … He matches his sister’s best result (from Are combined 2002) for family bragging rights.
Patrick Thaler matches his career personal best in a World Cup race, matching his third from the Kitzbuehel slalom Jan. 25, 2009.
It is the second best World Cup result for David Chodounsky, bested only by his fifth at last season’s Moscow City Event. His previous best in a World Cup slalom is tenth at Adelboden, also last season. … It is the 20th top 20 World Cup result for Julien Cousineau and his first score of the season. … It is the 60th World Cup scoring result for Michael Janyk and his second of the season. … It is his first score at Val d’Isere.
Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) retains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 360-335 over Marcel Hirscher (DNQ to complete race) with Ted Ligety (DNQ to complete race) third with 269pts. … Bode Miller (DNF in race) is ninth overall with 153pts. … Jan Hudec (did not race) is top Canadian in 27th with 91pts.
Matt takes control of the slalom standings 180-125 over Hargin. … Hirscher and Thaler are third with 100pts each. … Chodounsky is top American in the slalom standings at 12th with 36pts… Janyk leads the Canadians in 23rd with 21pts.
Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup standings 11566-984 over France. … Italy is third with 963pts. … The U.S. is sixth with 544pts and Canada ninth with 276pts.
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||FIS Points|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|43||192504||MERMILLOD BLONDIN Thomas||1984||FRA|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|28||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR|