The fog was nice enough to stay away for the final regular season men’s World Cup slalom of the season in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Sunday, but the same wet, soft snow and flat light as Saturday was on tap as Austria’s Michael Matt took the first World Cup victory of his career with a combined time of 1:48.26 seconds. Italy’s Stefano Gross hung on for a second-place finish, 0.30 seconds back while Germany’s Felix Neureuther claimed his fifth podium of the season in third, 0.46 seconds off of Matt’s pace.

Gross set the pace in the first run, using extremely clean and early skiing to distance himself from the rest of the field by over a second. Matt sat 1.15 seconds back in second place and Neureuther found himself 1.62 seconds adrift in fifth heading into the second run. It was quite the spread in the first run as a whole due to the soft conditions as a whopping 4.39 seconds separated Gross from 30th-place finisher Stefan Hadalin of Slovenia.

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Second run action saw a huge shake-up in the results as early racers took advantage of a clean course and deteriorating conditions to make massive jumps in the standings. Italy’s Patrick Thaler had the fastest second run time and charged from 28th to sixth as several other racers from outside the top 20 made solid jumps into the top 15. Neureuther looked to have blown the doors off the race by coming down with a 0.78 second advantage and held the lead until Matt kicked out of the gate. Skiing within himself and maintaining a light touch on his edges, Matt managed to match Neureuther and slide into the lead by a comfortable margin. Gross, despite a valiant second run effort, was not able to hang on to his first run advantage and found himself in second, but was none the less content to make it back to the podium.

Marcel Hirscher’s fourth place finish combined with Henrik Kristoffersen failing to make the second run after hiking in his first run means that the Austrian has now locked up the slalom title as he leads the standing by 110 points with only the slalom at Finals to go.

KRANJSKA GORA,SLOVENIA,05.MAR.17 - ALPINE SKIING - FIS World Cup, slalom, men. Image shows Michael Matt (AUT). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Matic Klansek
Photo: GEPA pictures/ Matic Klansek

Matt looked deceptively fast in both runs as his clean, calm skiing was the ticket to victory on Sunday. Matt’s older brother, Mario, won the slalom in Kranjska Gora twice during his illustrious career, and the younger Matt certainly hopes that Sunday’s result is an indication of what is to come.

“It’s amazing, it’s unbelievable when you stand out there in the finish area,” Matt said of the winner’s presentation. “When you’re second after the first run and then the green light is in the second run when you’re in the finish, it’s amazing. I watched (the other racers) at the World Championships in St. Moritz and that wasn’t good, so I didn’t watch today. I didn’t watch anyone, I just focused on me and my skiing and I’m really happy. I’ve had a good experience in European Cup here on this hill and last year as well. I just like the hill and love to ski here.”

Gross has struggled with a bad back for much of the season and definitely needed the confidence boots of a podium heading into the final slalom of the season in Aspen.

“It feels extremely good because I’ve had a really difficult season,” Gross admitted. “Unfortunately, I had a bad back problem in January and then the best race I could have done was when I was second after the first run in Kitzbuehel and in the second run, I straddled a gate right at the top. That could have probably totally changed my season if something had gone well at that point, but it’s been a terrible season for me and it really feels very good to be back on the podium. I had a great first run, but it was also due to my start number as I had number two. Unfortunately in the second run, from the beginning, I had a few problems. It was bumpy, it was really hard to hold the line, so it was not as good, but I was well prepared for the conditions with training in salty, spring snow.”

Sunday was Neureuther’s fifth career podium at Kranjska Gora and the German also looks to put some early season struggles behind him and finish the season strong.

“It feels very good,” he said. “I don’t know how may times I’ve been on the podium here, but it’s a very, very special hill, technical, tough and the conditions are always tough too, so I am very happy to be on the podium again. I had some problems at the beginning of the season until just right before the World Championships; I was struggling with my setup so I couldn’t ski as I wanted but now, since the World Championships, it feels really good again.”

It was a tough day for the American contingent as David Chodounsky was the lone finisher in 19th place. Despite a strong first run in the ruts that saw him sitting in 11th place, Chodounsky fell victim to the deteriorating second run and slid back to 19th, which unfortunately did not score him enough points to qualify for World Cup Finals in Aspen. Michael Ankeny did not finish his first run and the remaining U.S. skiers — Mark Engel, Robby Kelley, AJ Ginnis, and Hig Roberts — did not qualify for the second run.

The top-25 men in each discipline now pack their bags and head to World Cup Finals in Aspen, Colorado, March 15-19.

Fans can stay up to date on World Cup by  downloading the U.S. Ski Team – Ski Racing app for iOS and Android.


Top 10

  1. Michael Matt (AUT) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
  2. Stefano Gross (ITA) – Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
  3. Felix Neureuther (GER) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
  4. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  5. Andre Myhrer (SWE) – Head/Head/Head
  6. Patrick Thaler (ITA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  7. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  8. Julien Lizeroux (FRA) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
  9. Victor Muffat-Jeandet (FRA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
  10. Alexander Khoroshilov (RUS) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer

Official Results

RankBibFIS CodeNameYearNationRun 1Run 2Total TimeDiff.FIS PointsWC Points
 1 12 54170MATT Michael1993AUT 55.41 52.85 1:48.26 0.00 100.00
 2 2 293797GROSS Stefano1986ITA 54.26 54.30 1:48.56 +0.30 2.00 80.00
 3 5 201702NEUREUTHER Felix1984GER 55.88 52.84 1:48.72 +0.46 3.06 60.00
 4 1 53831HIRSCHER Marcel1989AUT 55.73 53.33 1:49.06 +0.80 5.32 50.00
 5 15 501017MYHRER Andre1983SWE 56.30 53.20 1:49.50 +1.24 8.25 45.00
 6 21 290732THALER Patrick1978ITA 58.53 51.02 1:49.55 +1.29 8.58 40.00
 7 6 292491MOELGG Manfred1982ITA 55.89 53.86 1:49.75 +1.49 9.91 36.00
 8 10 191459LIZEROUX Julien1979FRA 56.28 53.55 1:49.83 +1.57 10.44 32.00
 9 30 193967MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor1989FRA 57.93 51.97 1:49.90 +1.64 10.91 29.00
 10 4 480736KHOROSHILOV Alexander1984RUS 56.42 53.54 1:49.96 +1.70 11.31 26.00
 11 24 422082FOSS-SOLEVAAG Sebastian1991NOR 57.91 52.26 1:50.17 +1.91 12.70 24.00
 12 34 512182MEILLARD Loic1996SUI 58.22 51.97 1:50.19 +1.93 12.84 22.00
 13 22 511983AERNI Luca1993SUI 57.22 53.02 1:50.24 +1.98 13.17 20.00
 13 14 501111HARGIN Mattias1985SWE 56.34 53.90 1:50.24 +1.98 13.17 20.00
 15 36 511908SCHMIDIGER Reto1992SUI 58.40 51.92 1:50.32 +2.06 13.70 16.00
 16 27 202451STRASSER Linus1992GER 57.43 52.90 1:50.33 +2.07 13.77 15.00
 17 31 194262BUFFET Robin1991FRA 58.46 51.89 1:50.35 +2.09 13.90 14.00
 18 25 511902ZENHAEUSERN Ramon1992SUI 57.97 52.40 1:50.37 +2.11 14.03 13.00
 19 23 534508CHODOUNSKY David1984USA 56.88 53.59 1:50.47 +2.21 14.70 12.00
 20 20 192665GRANGE Jean-Baptiste1984FRA 58.23 52.25 1:50.48 +2.22 14.76 11.00
 21 33 380334VIDOVIC Matej1993CRO 57.70 52.83 1:50.53 +2.27 15.10 10.00
 22 46 561322HADALIN Stefan1995SLO 58.65 51.90 1:50.55 +2.29 15.23 9.00
 23 8 54320SCHWARZ Marco1995AUT 55.84 54.85 1:50.69 +2.43 16.16 8.00
 24 29 53889HIRSCHBUEHL Christian1990AUT 58.16 52.54 1:50.70 +2.44 16.23 7.00
 25 11 194364PINTURAULT Alexis1991FRA 57.41 53.30 1:50.71 +2.45 16.29 6.00
 26 16 421860NORDBOTTEN Jonathan1989NOR 57.34 53.55 1:50.89 +2.63 17.49 5.00
 27 19 421669HAUGEN Leif Kristian1987NOR 57.25 53.66 1:50.91 +2.65 17.62 4.00
 28 43 511899ROCHAT Marc1992SUI 58.58 52.48 1:51.06 +2.80 18.62 3.00
 29 18 51395DIGRUBER Marc1988AUT 57.37 53.93 1:51.30 +3.04 20.22 2.00
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 78 54106BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon1992BOL
 77 561310HROBAT Miha1995SLO
 76 20378ESTEVE Axel1994AND
 75 400235WINKELHORST Steffan1992NED
 74 150743BERNDT Ondrej1988CZE
 73 221236TAYLOR Laurie1996GBR
 70 700868FALAT Matej1993SVK
 69 501116LAHDENPERAE Anton1985SWE
 67 561313DVORNIK Aljaz1995SLO
 66 934566ROBERTS Hig1991USA
 64 6531063GINNIS AJ1994USA
 63 380290SAMSAL Dalibor1985HUN
 61 350095PFIFFNER Marco1994LIE
 60 561244KRANJEC Zan1992SLO
 58 380363KOLEGA Elias1996CRO
 57 6190403NOEL Clement1997FRA
 56 92720POPOV Albert1997BUL
 55 561291GROSELJ Zan1993SLO
 54 502015JAKOBSEN Kristoffer1994SWE
 51 6291631LIBERATORE Federico1995ITA
 50 512138SIMONET Sandro1995SUI
 48 201896STEHLE Dominik1986GER
 47 291145DEVILLE Cristian1981ITA
 45 291318TONETTI Riccardo1989ITA
 44 202437LUITZ Stefan1992GER
 42 103865PHILP Trevor1992CAN
 41 6291574SALA Tommaso1995ITA
 39 930160KELLEY Robby1990USA
 38 150644KRYZL Krystof1986CZE
 37 481327TRIKHICHEV Pavel1992RUS
 35 934523ENGEL Mark1991USA
 28 103729READ Erik1991CAN
 26 293098RAZZOLI Giuliano1984ITA
 3 422304KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik1994NOR
Did not finish 2nd run
 17 301709YUASA Naoki1983JPN
Did not finish 1st run
 72 30149SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier1980ARG
 71 410365BARWOOD Adam1992NZL
 68 180567RASANEN Joonas1989FIN
 65 422073NETELAND Bjoernar1991NOR
 62 194664RIZZO Maxime1993FRA
 59 491879SALARICH Joaquim1994ESP
 53 934502ANKENY Michael1991USA
 52 103676BROWN Phil1991CAN
 49 54245HETTEGGER Thomas1994AUT
 40 320266JUNG Dong-hyun1988KOR
 32 511127GINI Marc1984SUI
 13 54063FELLER Manuel1992AUT
 9 511996YULE Daniel1993SUI
 7 220689RYDING Dave1986GBR