The Audi FIS Ski World Cup season could also start for the men this week-end with the slalom opening in Levi, Finland.
Traditionally, the winner of this race gets a reindeer and this season, the athlete that could walk away with the animal is Germany’s Felix Neureuther.
In the first run, the top 30 athletes were very tight together. From the 92 athletes at the start, the 30st finished only +1.56 behind the fastest of the run, Great Britain’s Dave Ryding. Already in this position at the slalom in Kitzbuehel last season, the British slalom whiz made a mistake in the second run and skied out, preventing his nation to score its first ever World Cup win.
This offered the 3rd spot to Sweden’s Mattias Hargin, who laid down a fantastic second run to move up from the 12th position to a podium placement. Since March 2015 Hargin didn’t climb on the podium in his main discipline slalom, so he was particularly happy of his performance at the beginning of the season in Levi.
In second position, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen earned his 31st World Cup podium for his comeback on the Levi Black, after skipping the race last season due to a disagreement with his federation. After a deceiving end of last season, the young Norwegian is back on the right track and ready to battle for the globe again.
Felix Neureuther was the most constant over both runs. The German was 2nd only 0.14 back in the first run and was able to keep up with the fast pace of the second, where Jean-Baptiste Grange (FRA) had the fastest time. This performance allowed Neureuther to celebrate his first victory since February 2016 and the honour to own and name a baby reindeer. He chose the nickname of his new-born daughter Matilda, the reindeer will be called “Matti”.
Marcel Hirscher, coming back from an ankle fracture mid-August, had only very few days of slalom training, but he didn’t lose this sensational feeling on the skis and was able to push hard to reach a 4th place in the first run. However, the routine was not quite there yet and he finished 17th after the second run.
The World Cup Tour will move on for the North American races in Killington (ladies tech races) and Lake Louise (men’s speed races) on 25th-26th November.