ADELBODEN, Switzerland â€” Henrik Kristoffersen routed his rivals to win a foggy World Cup slalom by a massive 1.83-second margin on Sunday.
With his third win this season, the 22-year-old Norwegian drew level atop the slalom standings with great rival Marcel Hirscher of Austria, who was 2.19 back in third place.
“Today was an awesome day for sure,” said Kristoffersen, the defending World Cup slalom champion. “It is possible to beat me but today I was skiing well.”
Fog drifted across the course as the first-run leader also set the fastest time in the second leg.
Still, it did not compare to thick fog that slowed Hirscher and others who started after Kristoffersen’s first run as morning sunshine was blocked out.
“This is skiing, not ice hockey,” said Hirscher, refusing to complain about poor visibility. “First run was a big difference between the numbers, but we are outside and this is what you have to deal with.”
Manfred Moelgg of Italy finished second to continue his career renaissance at age 34. He won on Thursday at Zagreb, Croatia, where Kristoffersen was third. Calgary’s Erik Read was 18th in 1:59.21
Kristoffersen’s 13th career World Cup win was his 12th in slalom. The Olympic bronze medallist is poised to start favourite at the world championships next month, also in Switzerland at St. Moritz.
Hirscher, the five-time defending overall champion, extended his standings lead over Alexis Pinturault of France, who placed ninth Sunday. Pinturault edged Hirscher to win Saturday’s classic giant slalom that drew 27,000 people to the Chuenisbaergli hill.
Kristoffersen, who is third overall, caught a break with the weather, three days after strong winds ended his chance of victory at Zagreb.
Still, he exploited the luck of a No. 3 bib draw to post a fast time in bright light, at least 1.27 ahead of all but Moelgg.
“Of course it’s not 100 per cent fair,” Kristoffersen said of the first-run fog, “but that goes back and forth if you are skiing for many years.”
Hirscher started No. 6 in the first run and was 1.60 back in sixth place. He was hidden from the crowd’s view coming down the steep final slope and threw his arms wide in frustration in the finish area.
With his second podium finish this weekend, the 27-year-old Austrian rose to second on the all-time World Cup list with 101 top-3 places. Hirscher trails far behind Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark.
The home team struggled again, and eighth place for Daniel Yule was Switzerland’s only top-15 finish of an important weekend on the Alpine nation’s sports calendar.
Switzerland also hosts the next World Cup stop and perhaps its favourite event all year â€” the Lauberhorn downhill at nearby Wengen on Saturday.
More snowfalls and challenging weather are forecast ahead of a three-race meeting that opens Friday.
Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press