MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) — An explosive second run earned Henrik Kristoffersen “one of the most emotional wins” of his career Tuesday, leading Sebastian Foss-Solevaag for a Norwegian 1-2 finish at a men’s World Cup night slalom on Tuesday.
In the traditional last race before Christmas on the floodlit Canalone Miramonti course, Kristoffersen was 1.25 seconds behind in 12th after the first run but charged ahead in the second to beat first-run leader Foss-Solevaag by 0.33.
Alex Vinatzer of Italy was 0.34 behind in third, edging Austria’s Manuel Feller by one-hundredth.
His frenetic run kickstarted the season for Kristoffersen, who won the World Cup titles in slalom and GS last year but struggled in his key disciplines in the new campaign.
“The last three weeks have been tough, for sure. I think I have never been this emotional after a win before,” Kristoffersen said. “This is one of the most emotional wins in my career.”
He finished fifth in the season-opening GS in Soelden in October and was runner-up in a parallel event in Lech a few weeks later, but “since then it has been terrible.”
“And skiing is my life. I have a family and skiing — and that’s my life. I don’t have anything else,” Kristoffersen said. “When that goes tough, it’s challenging, especially when you won so many races before and everyone starts thinking: Is he finished now? What’s wrong? It’s really emotional, even with one good run, to win a race.”
Without changes to the setup of his equipment, Kristoffersen looked a different racer in the final run.
“It’s all in my head,” he said. “In the first run, I skied technically good, but too round and too calm. It was just slow. In the second run I could only attack.”
Kristoffersen was also helped by many racers who were faster in the opening run before struggling on the relatively soft snow surface due to the mild temperatures in the Italian Alps.
Kristoffersen’s first triumph of the season marked his 18th World Cup slalom win and 22nd overall.
The World Cup slalom champion is now in outright third place on the Norwegian winners’ list, overtaking Kjetil André Aamodt and trailing only Aksel Lund Svindal, who had 36 wins before retiring in 2019, and Kjetil Jansrud, with 23.
The result meant that Norway has won three of the five races held in the Italian Alps over the past five days, after Aleksander Aamodt Kilde triumphed in two speed races in Val Gardena on Friday and Saturday.
Chasing his first career win, Foss-Solevaag took a big lead of four-tenths in the opening run, with a flawless run in the steep middle section, before carrying his speed through the finish.
Despite losing his lead, he said that “all in all, I’m happy with my performance today.”
It was his third career podium, and first since March 2016.
Foss-Solevaag is among the most consistent performers in the slalom discipline. He finished in the top 10 in eight of the nine slaloms last seasons, more than any other competitor.
Alexis Pinturault extended his lead in the overall standings to 65 points over Kilde, who doesn’t compete in slaloms.
Pinturault was part of a three-way tie for sixth place, with Germany’s Linus Strasser and his French teammate, two-time world champion Jean-Baptiste Grange.
Ramon Zenhaeusern, who won a slalom in Alta Badia on Monday, finished eight-tenths off the lead in 13th.
Kristoffer Jakobsen of Sweden posted the fastest second-run time for a second straight day, and finished 10th.
The men’s World Cup continues with the classic downhill in Bormio next Monday.
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Henrik Kristoffersen rallies for one of most emotional wins of his career originally appeared on NBCSports.com