GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Henrik Kristoffersen completed a turnaround of his World Cup slalom season Sunday with his second win in two days.
The Norwegian was coming off a below-par start to his 2021-22 campaign, which included no top-10 results and two DNFs in his first four races, prompting him to replace his long-term ski technician.
Now, the Norwegian is the first skier this season with multiple slalom victories with the previous seven races featuring seven different winners.
And leading the slalom standings by 49 points with two races remaining, he is on course to win his third career season title.
Kristoffersen came from behind to earn his 21st slalom victory Sunday after the top three skiers from the first run all failed to finish.
Kristoffersen was eighth after the opening leg, but the Norwegian took the lead with the fourth-fastest time in the final run. He then watched as the next seven racers all failed to beat his time, with four of them not even making it to the finish.
“That’s a shame, that’s never how you want to win it but, still, this is part of the game, part of the sport, so I’m super happy for another win,” Kristoffersen said.
The top three after the first run – Swiss skiers Loïc Meillard and Ramon Zenhäusern and Austria’s Johannes Strolz – all straddled a gate on the icy course, where the first few gates were set to create unusually sharp turns, making it hard to find rhythm from the start.
“It was a course for real men in the second run. This is not for the boys, this is for the men, for sure,” Kristoffersen said. “I feel sorry for Loïc, he skied really good the last two days.”
Meillard had taken a big lead of more than half a second in the opening run, mastering the icy Gudiberg course and finishing 0.51 seconds ahead of Zenhäusern and Strolz, who clocked the same time.
Conditions had changed from Saturday’s race as freezing temperatures overnight made the top layer harder and more slippery, causing several racers problems with the tuning setup of their skis.
“It was not easy to get the right feeling under your feet: it was partly aggressive, partly icy. I just tried to stay calm,” Meillard said after the opening run.
As it got warmer for the second run, the course surface weakened a bit, but “it was still slick in some spots,” according to Kristoffersen.
Norwegian teammate and world champion Sebastian Foss-Solevåg also straddled and failed to score World Cup points.
The second-run course was set by Tristan Glasse-Davies, the coach of Dave Ryding, and suited the British skier well, as he climbed from 19th to second, 0.35 behind Kristoffersen.
“He knows what I like, and he set what I like,” Ryding said. “We did it, so good teamwork in the end.”
Ryding’s fifth career podium came five weeks after he became the first British winner in the World Cup at the prestigious slalom in Kitzbühel.
Linus Straßer of Germany was 0.47 behind in third, and Lucas Braathen improved from 24th to fourth.
Braathen lost his lead in the slalom standings to teammate Kristoffersen, who has 356 points. Braathen is second on 307, Straßer third on 278.
“It’s definitely cool to wear the red bib, but I don’t look at the globe now,” Kristoffersen said.
American Ben Ritchie finished in 20th for his career-best World Cup slalom result.
The season calendar includes two more slaloms: a night race in Flachau on March 9 and the season closer at the World Cup Finals in Méribel starting on March 14.
Olympic champion Clément Noël skied out for the second straight day and is out of the race for the season slalom title.
This is a developing story, stay tuned for more.