Axel Baeck leads first slalom run at Kranjska Gora
Sweden’s 23-year-old Axel Baeck, surprised himself and all the favorites setting the fastest time in the first slalom leg at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, where the last gate race prior the Finals at Lenzerheide is taking place.
After a very aggressive run, the Scandinavian, 6th at Schladming in January and 11t5h at the recent FIS Worlds in Bavaria, beat by only a mere hundredth of a second Italy’s Manfred Moelgg who excelled on the demanding ‘Podkoren’ slalom course a few years ago, on his way to clinch the 2008 slalom World Cup title.
This morning the bronze medalist from Garmisch-Partenkirchen partly found back his best form to beat with the same narrow margin another Swede, Andre Myhrer
France’s Steve Missilier has been a solid 4th ahead of Austria’s Mario Matt, the recent winner at Bansko.
Reinfried Herbt, the best of the pack a year ago, or Kostelic also made it among the top-15 but France’s Jean-Baptiste Grange was disqualified after straddling a gate on his way down. This incident may prevent the newly crowned World Champion to battle until the upcoming Finals for an eventual second slalom globe in case Kostelic finishes the Slovenian race in 2nd place this afternoon.
Other late starters also found their way among the top of the standings as USA’s Kasper Nolan, 7th with bib 22 or Japan’s Naoki Yuasa, 8th with bib 20.
In the second run the sun may dramatically warm up the snow to favor early starters able to ski on a better course as it has been the case on Saturday, helping France’s Alexis Pinturault to reach his first World Cup podium after ending the first run a far 16th .
Yet the skier to beat may well be once more Mario Matt, who have been consistently fast in his recent second slalom runs.
Contributed by MMJL