It will be down to the wire for the small globe in the men’s slalom World Cup this season. In a season that keeps on delivering surprises, tonight’s race produced another.
After winning back-to-back slaloms in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER), Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) took the lead in the slalom World Cup standings and was looking like a hot favourite to win Flachau (AUT). However, after losing too much time on his first run due to the last roller, the Norwegian couldn’t make up the lost time in his second run and finished 16th. Johannes Strolz (AUT) took an impressive lead in the first run, finishing 0.97 seconds ahead of Atle Lie McGrath (NOR) and 1 second ahead of Olympic slalom champion, Clément Noel (FRA).
McGrath has performed extremely well at the night races so far this season. In Schladming’s (AUT) night race, he claimed his first slalom World Cup podium, finishing only 0.03 seconds behind the leader. Tonight, he comes out on top with a stellar first and second run performance to see him finish 0.29 seconds ahead of Noel. McGrath’s win makes it the first time since the 1969/70 season where four different Norwegians have won a men’s slalom race.
After two DNFs in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Noel was eager to get back into fighting form and put down a good run ahead of the finals. Finishing his first run in 3rd place, the Frenchman put down a strong second run, which put him in the hot seat. However, it wasn’t enough to secure him the victory.
With five top-10 podium finishes so far this season, Daniel Yule (SUI) has been showing he has what it takes to be there competing for the win. Nonetheless, today wasn’t his day. Finishing the first run in 4th, Yule managed to claw back one position and secured 3rd. The Swiss skier’s last victory came in Kitzbühel (AUT) in 2020.
Strolz did not seem to tackle his second run with the same confidence and ease as his first. He ended up finishing 4th, 0.66 seconds behind the top pace.
The fight for the men’s slalom globe will go down to the finals, where the top-5 athletes still have a chance to claim it. Henrik Kristoffersen, Lucas Braathen (NOR), Linus Strasser (GER), Manuel Feller (AUT) and Daniel Yule are all within points to claim it. Unfortunately for Dave Ryding, his DNF in tonight’s race took him out of the running for the globe.
Tonight’s race also marked the end of an era as one of the slalom’s most iconic racers announced his retirement. Manfred Moelgg (ITA) has decided to hang up his ski boots and call it a day on the World Cup circuit. After a long and successful career, he retires after winning three World Championship medals, three world cup victories and one slalom globe.