SCHLADMING, Austria — It didn’t take long for Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen to bounce back from an uncharacteristic DNF in last Sunday’s Kitzbuehel slalom. The 22-year-old phenom returned to his now customary winning ways at the night slalom in Schadming, Austria, on Tuesday, taking his fifth slalom victory of the season with a total time of 1:39.83. Hot on his heels in second was none other than Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, a razor-slim 0.09 seconds back. Russia’s Alexander Khoroshilov rounded out the podium in third, 0.63 seconds back, making the podium identical to last year’s race.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky all day as the sun waned and the now legendary lights illuminated the Planai slope as racing action got underway in the first run. Kristoffersen set the pace early with strong, composed skiing, wearing bib three, and Hirscher sat in second, just over a half-second back with Khoroshilov a full second back in third.
The second run set was quick tempo and provided some opportunities for big risks and impressive skiing. Khoroshilov made easy work of a tricky bottom section to take the lead by nearly a full second when he crossed the line, laying down a formidable challenge for the two superstars to match. The moment Hirscher left the gate it was obvious that after an energizing win in Kitzbuehel, he was hungry for more as the Austrian built on his advantage at each interval and crossed the finish with an impressive margin and the fastest second run time. Kristoffersen, however, was not to be outdone and although lost all of his advantage by the last split, was able to charge the final few gates and cross the line for another impressive win.
After revealing that his crash in Kitzbuehel affected him more than he admitted at the time, Kristoffersen shared that he was aware of being down at the final interval — something that might rattle a lesser racer — but was able to refocus and walk away with his second consecutive and third career Schladming victory.
“I said that it (crashing in Kitzbuehel) didn’t affect me, but it affected me a little bit for sure,” he explained in the finish. “I did not find the rhythm there on the top in the second run or on the steep, I think. The course was really straight, usually I don’t like it, like I said in Wengen. I actually did not know that the finish bridge lights up green when you’re in front and red when you’re behind. My teammate Sebastian (Foss-Solevaag) told me this summer. Before the second run, I was like, ‘Don’t look at it! Don’t look at it!’ I came through the last split and was like, ‘I gotta look! No! It’s red, I gotta go!’ So I was a little stressed, but I think I charged it at the bottom there so it was pretty good.”
Hirscher admitted that he knew his bottom section was not up to par as soon as he crossed the line, but was nonetheless content to walk away with another 80 points to add to his overall standing lead.
“I knew it exactly when I crossed the finish line that the last fifteen gates were not good,” Hirscher said. “I was too shy, not enough to go one-hundred percent of risk through the last fifteen gates. It’s my personal mistake, but better eighty points in the books than zero points for today. I’m getting closer to Henrik, that is good and he deserved it anyways and skied excellent.”
Khoroshilov has now either won or been on the podium in the last three Schladming slaloms and feels that this is somewhat of a home race for him given how much time he spends in the region training in the winter.
“I really love this hill,” Khoroshilov said after the race. “It’s almost for me like a home race because we are spending a lot of time here and in Reiteralm, so I really feel like it’s at home. The crowd here gives you so much energy while you ski down, it’s awesome. Before the first World Cup, I was a little bit injured, so I started to ski pretty late before Levi — two or three days — and then I started to train a little bit with Dave (Ryding) and we started to push each other and then I could see how fast I am.”
For the Americans, Vermont’s Robby Kelley was the lone qualifier in the second run and was posting some fast skiing before getting shot out of the course within sight of the finish. As Kelley hiked to finish, upwards of 50,000 spectators roared to cheer him on.
“Obviously, I wouldn’t have wanted that to happen, but it happens,” he explained. “I was going for it. I was happy with my intensity on the bottom, I was really trying to make up some time down there. I had a good bottom split first run and then, yeah, I just couldn’t quite keep up with myself. When I was sliding, all I was thinking was, ‘Please stop, so I can hike before I cross the finish line!’ I did stop and was able to hike. I’m happy with the reaction of the crowd, they appreciated what I did, it was a nice moment.”
David Chodounsky was on an impressive pace in the first run before straddling towards the bottom. Mark Engel did not qualify and Michael Ankeny, AJ Ginnis, and Hig Roberts did not finish the first run.
The men now head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany for downhill and giant slalom races Jan. 27-29.
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- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol / Rossignol / Rossignol
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Alexander Khoroshilov (RUS) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Julien Lizeroux (FRA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
- Stefano Gross (ITA) – Voelkl / Tecnica / Dalbello
- Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic / Atomic / Atomic
- Naoki Yuasa (JPN) – Hart/ Nordica / Marker
- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
- Mattias Hargin (SWE) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Dave Ryding (GBR) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|11||26||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||53.01||49.27||1:42.28||+2.45||17.67||24.00|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|75||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL|
|74||540026||DICKSON SOMMERS Rodolfo Roberto||1997||MEX|
|73||170151||DYRBYE NAESTED Casper||1996||DEN|