(Wengen) World Cup slalom circuit leader Manuel Feller denied the Norwegians a thrilling victory on Sunday when he triumphed in Wengen, Switzerland.
The Norwegians wanted to win for their team leader, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who suffered a nasty fall on the course on Saturday and had to be taken to hospital by helicopter.
Feller, however, rose above the fray, ahead of Atle Lie McGrath by 10 hundredths of a second. Feller also beat Lie McGrath last week in Adelboden.
McGrath said that after setting the fastest time in the first run in the morning, he was “just skiing for Aleksander today.”
Canadians Justin Alkier and Erik Read did not qualify.
In the afternoon, McGrath maintained his lead through each intermediate until losing almost four tenths in the final section. He put his right hand on his helmet in the finish area, not seeming to understand how victory had escaped him.
“I probably have to thank him [McGrath] for pushing me,” Feller said. My skiing is probably the best I have ever shown. »
Henrik Kristoffersen, the Norwegian world champion, slipped to third place, 21 hundredths behind Feller, who had been third fastest in the morning.
Feller has now won three of four slalom races this season and extended his lead in the discipline’s standings. McGrath now being second.
McGrath had a remarkable race in the morning. He admitted he “didn’t sleep much last night,” reflecting on Kilde’s hard fall into the course fences near the finish line on Saturday.
Before Sunday’s race, Kilde shared a photo from his hospital bed with his partner, Mikaela Shiffrin.
The Norwegian Ski Federation said Kilde dislocated his shoulder and suffered a cut to his right calf, but without a fracture.
“It was hard to see. I didn’t sleep much last night, McGrath told Swiss broadcaster RTS about Kilde’s accident. It puts things into perspective when someone is so badly injured, which is really scary. I realize that I am lucky to be here. »
He described the Wengen slalom as “one of the most legendary races” and the particularity of the course — contested on a slope adjacent to the descent, with a common finish area — is that the two tracks pass on either side of an old farm in the middle of the hill.
Austria had not won this race since Marcel Hirscher, in 2018, in the seventh of his eight consecutive seasons with the general classification title in his pocket. In Hirscher’s final race at Wengen the following year, he placed third, while Feller had taken second behind Clément Noël.
Noël, the 2022 Olympic slalom champion, finished in fourth position on Sunday, having the best descent in the afternoon to climb eight places.
Marco Odermatt, who won both downhills in Wengen but is not competing in the slaloms, has double the number of points of any rival in the general classification. He is looking for a third consecutive title.
The men’s World Cup now moves to the Austrian site of Kitzbühel, where there will be the downhill in Hahnenkamm on Saturday. This is the most feared and popular descent on the men’s circuit. A slalom will be contested there next Sunday.