Madonna di Campiglio glistened with the light of the holiday season, and the snow shimmered under the flood lights on Friday night. The best male slalom skiers in the world took to the historic slope for a chance to make their mark. The Italian venue has hosted World Cup races since 1967. It’s a classic tour stop even if it’s not technically a “Classic” like Kitzbuehel. For the last couple years, Henrik Kristoffersen has dominated the venue, but Marcel Hirscher had other plans.
The Austrian took his 49th World Cup victory by a narrow 0.04 second margin over Switzerland’s Luca Aerni, repeating his performance there from 2012. In an uncharacteristically wild second run, Hirscher nearly got knocked out of the course, losing almost the entirety of his first run lead. Despite that, he worked the skis enough at the bottom of the course to gain back a few hundredths of a second.
“The last five months, especially the last four months where I was injured, was a pretty hard time for myself,” Hirscher said. “There was a lot of time to think about whether I can be as strong as before. What I can tell you is that the love for the sport, the emotion, and the passion is definitely more than the last couple of years. This is giving me a lot of confidence and a lot of energy. For myself, it was so unexpected (to win), but I tried as hard as I can after the mistake.”
The Austrian now only trails Ingemar Stenmark, Hermann Maier and Alberto Tomba in all-time wins. He’s just one away from tying Tomba, who was on site for the event. The Italian legend won there three times during his illustrious career.
For Aerni, it was a major career milestone–his first World Cup podium. The Swiss athlete showed his podium potential when he became the alpine combined World Champion last season and again this season when he was fourth in Levi, Finland.
“Very good feeling,” he said in the press conference. “First podium in World Cup and my first race was here some years ago, so it’s a very good feeling to be on the podium here in Madonna. I always knew I could do a podium with two perfect runs; I was very happy to do this today, it’s a great hill for me.”
The two-time winner, Kristoffersen, snagged a third-place finish after Aleksander Khoroshilov of Russia–who was second after the first run–hooked a tip on a hairpin and lost a ski. He has podiumed in every slalom race this season, but the 2016 World Cup slalom globe winner has yet to take a win.
“This Austrian is really hard to beat,” Kristoffersen admitted. “I think technically I’m skiing decent, just missing a little in slalom at the moment. I took the choice this summer that I had to improve my GS. Last year was disappointing in GS, so I had to use a lot of time on that. Slalom is not bad, in fact, it’s really good, but there’s just a little bit missing because I’ve had so much focus on GS.”
Even without a slalom win, Kristoffersen is second in the overall standings with 505 points–just 29 behind Hirscher. The Norwegian continues to lead the slalom standings as well with 6 points over the Austrian.
It was another challenging slalom day for the American contingent. David Chodounsky was the only athletes able to qualify for a second run. It’s been a challenging season the World Cup veteran, marking only his second points-scoring result of the season.
“I’m not very satisfied,” the American shared. “I wanted more for sure. I’ve been skiing really well in training. Definitely had some nerves here a little bit. I don’t know why. Maybe because the last few races haven’t been so great. Even though I know I’m skiing well I’m almost there to trust it and really trust myself and push. I have a feeling I’ll be there next time. It’s been a rough start for me a little bit this year, but I’m going in the right direction and feeling really good. It’s a long season, so I’ll bring it to the next race. January is a big month.”
Fellow American Hig Roberts was 59th in the first run while Robby Kelley was dead last in 63rd after hiking. Mark Engel, AJ Ginnis and Michael Ankeny did not finish.
There is now a short break in the competition calendar for Christmas before men’s downhill training begins in Bormio on Dec. 26.
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Luca Aerni (SUI) – Salomon / Salomon/ Salomon
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
- Daniel Yule (SUI) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Dave Ryding (GBR) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Manfred Moelgg (ITA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Sebastian Foss-Solevaag (NOR) – Volkl / Dalbello / Marker
- Stefano Gross (ITA) – Volkl / Dalbello / Marker
- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|17||20||421669||NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||49.95||51.10||1:41.05||+1.26||9.09||14|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|82||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL||0|