Neureuther takes slalom lead
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – Over 7500 spectators showed up at the 53rd Pokal Vitranc slalom to support their favorite athletes under a cloudless sky. And they were in for quite a show!
In the first run, things were tight – Olympic slalom champion Mario Matt skied a fantastic first run, finishing a mere 0.05 seconds ahead of Felix Neureuther who seems to have fully recovered from the neck injury sustained in a car crash just before Sochi 0.30 seconds ahead of 19 years old Norwegian sensation Henrik Kristoffersen. With the top 11 skiers all crammed within less than one second the second run proved to be one of the most exciting ones we have seen all season.
Felix Neureuther clenched his third slalom victory of the season by finishing an impressive 0.59 seconds ahead of teammate Fritz Dopfer who was 5th after the first run and 0.79 seconds ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen who grasped his second third place of the weekend. Matt made a mistake a few gates before the finish line and did not finish his race.
Neureuther has had a fair share of struggles in the past weeks but today things seem to have fallen back into place for the German.
“This victory is so cool,” a very happy Neureuther said.
“The last weeks have been very hard for me… Between the car accident and the Olympics winning today is very special. Kranjska Gora is the venue where I first started my World Cup career and this day is just amazing. Also sharing the podium with Fritz is awesome, I am not sure two Germans have done so in slalom already,” he continued.
Dopfer has been very close to the podium this season but never managed to grasp one so today’s result is a great boost of confidence for the last races of the season.
“I’m really happy and satisfied with how things turned out today,” Dopfer said.
“I have been 4th twice in the last races and this second place is very welcome. It was a tough race, I tried to push it to the limit and it paid off. Now I have shared the podium with Felix in both slalom and giant slalom and that’s very cool,” he continued.
Kristoffersen had a dream weekend, after achieving his first giant slalom podium on Saturday, he earned himself a third place in the slalom as well.
“It’s a great weekend, two third places make me super happy. I was not sure if my second run would be enough for the podium – I knew both Felix could do a great run as he is skiing really well but I’m glad it still earned me a podium” Kristoffersen said after receiving the Organizer’s award for the best skier of this weekend.
Kranjska Gora wraps up the “regular” World Cup season and now the best 25 athletes in each discipline will compete at the Finals in Lenzerheide. In the race for the slalom title, anything can happen! Felix Neureuther took the slalom lead from Marcel Hirscher and is now sitting 5 points ahead of the Austrian and 50 ahead of Kristoffersen. The Lenzerheide slalom will certainly be a race worth watching!