JWSC: Norwegian youngster Henrik Kristoffersen won gold in mens' gs
The Junior World Ski Championship kicked off the first technical event for men this afternoon. With more than 140 athletes starting, it was set for a long day of racing. With fairly cold temperatures compared to what the athletes had in the beginning of the Championships, some wind, and fog getting closer, the conditions were not ideal. In the first run, the top 6 athletes were from Norway, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Austria and Germany. With a maximum of 1 second dividing them all, it was set for yet another battle. The weather didn't improve though, which the first racers in the second run had the advantage of. Starting out first was Thomas Dressen (GER), who kept his first position all through the race before the Norwegian finished. Alexander Schmid (GER) and Niklas Koeck (AUT), ranked two and three were joining him in the leader box for a long time as well, realizing this might be their chance for the podium. One by one, the athletes came down the slope, but noone could beat the time of Dressen. Close by were the French guy Mathieu Faivre who finished second in the first run. With the time 12:40.36, he was just edged out of the podium with 0.1 seconds, and ended up as fourth. Third place and bronze medal went to Zan Kranjec, who took gold with team Slovenia earlier this week. With the last man from the top 30 starting, it was a decisive moment for who would take home the win. 18-year old Henrik Kristoffersen showed no sign of weakness, fired down the hill, just like he did in the first run. Winning with the margin of 0.75 seconds, he could celebrate his very first gold medal, at his very first Junior World Ski Championships.
It was a lot of discussion around the conditions this afternoon, as athletes who were expected to perform better, didn't manage to. Talking to the guys on the podium, their minds were split. Silver medallist Thomas Dressen said he was happy that Kristoffersen won, as he didn't find the conditions fair after the 10th racer had finished, and said he was lucky starting the second run first. Kristoffersen on the other hand, ment the conditions were just like they used to be back home in Norway during their summer training. Soft snow, limited visibility, but still a great course.
The Swiss team were unlucky in the second run, with the best skier ranked 11th. Clearly not happy with their performance, nor the conditions, they also had to see Norway take another medal in the Championships, and thereby increasing the lead in the March Hodler trophy ranking. With two competitions remaining, Norway is now leading with 70 points, followed by Switzerland with 56 and France 41 points.
Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR), gold:
“Being Norwegian, I'm used to these kind of conditions. I have trained a lot in strong wind, shitty snow and low visibility, but I don't care about that when I race, all I think about is racing. Before the start today, I was looking forward to ski, and didn't feel nervous at all. Obviously the great Norwegian performance down here has given me even more motivation to ski well, and I wanted to be as good as the others have been. I didn't really have any expectations about a podium in gs, but I surely never start a race without thinking that I want to win this".
Thomas Dressen (GER), silver:
“It was a great run for me, where I didn't do any major mistakes. Fortunately I had an early start, as the course got worse, but I'm super excited about a silver medal. Before the best racers came down, I had no expectations to be on the podium, but this is part of the game, and I almost can't believe it".
Zan Kranjec (SLO), bronze:
“Being on the podium in the my first Junior World Ski Championships feels great. On Monday I was on the podium with my team, but winning an individual medal means a lot to me. The second run was hard, but I just went for it, and it worked".