Hello and welcome back to Gravity. A host of big names, including the likes of Jean-Claude Killy, Franz Klammer, Ingemar Stenmark, Hermann Maier and Bode Miller have triumphed at the “Critérium of the first snow”, an event which was started in Val D’Isere 60 years ago. Let’s see who prevailed here on Sunday.
Kristoffersen edges out Hirscher in Val d’Isere
Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen produced a stunning performance to claim the opening World Cup slalom race of the season.
After an early exit on the previous day, the 21-year-old Olympic bronze medalist wasted no time dwelling on past misfortunes, clocking the fastest time in the first leg before protecting his lead on the Bellevarde course, en route to his fifth career race triumph.
Marcel Hirscher, standing eighth after the first run, stepped it up a gear in the second leg for a combined time of 1min 39.96 but it was too little too late as the 26-year-old eventually had to settle for second place.
Hirscher already holds a commanding overall lead, but Kristoffersen’s flawless first run will give him something to think about in his bid for a fourth straight slalom title.
Felix Neureuther of Germany improved from fifth in the morning to take third ahead of American David Chodounsky – who secured a career-best fourth place and a fifth top-10 finish.
The next slalom race will take place in the Italian resort of Madonna di Campiglio on Dec. 22.
Marcel Hirscher has taken advantage of Aksel Lund Svindal’s absence to set the pace at the top of the overall standings. Our expert Franck Piccard believes the Austrian can go all the way and clinch his fifth crystal globe.
Franck Piccard: “Hirscher seems unstoppable and I just can’t see anybody challenging him at the moment. He could be in trouble if he lost his focus but I don’t think he’s that type of athlete. I’m sure he’ll be a threat yet again throughout the winter in every discipline including the Super-G. He’s strong physically and mentally and just improves with every season. I would also say that he’s willing to take risks and gives 100% into every performance regardless of the course. I just can’t see who can stop him this season.”
Vlhova shines in Sweden
Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova kept her composure to claim her maiden World Cup race in Sweden.
The former junior world champion pulled off a surprise by leading the opening run before stamping her authority yet again in the second, winning by more than half a second over local favourite Frida Hansdotter who moved up from fifth after the opening leg to finish second.
Norway’s Nina Loeseth dropped from second after the morning run to complete the podium 0.65 behind while overall World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn sat out after winning Saturday’s giant slalom.
This result sees Hansdotter move 20 points ahead of the injured Shiffrin atop the slalom standings with Vlhova moving up to third place, 60 points adrift.
Well that’s all we have time for but join us next week for another edition of Gravity. In the meantime, we leave you with some of the best images from this weekend’s races in Sweden and Val d’Isère: “it’s snowtime!
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