MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (AP) — Norwegian skier Sebastian Foss-Solevåg benefited when Clément Noël missed the final gate in the second run of a World Cup slalom night race on Wednesday to claim his first victory since taking gold at the world championships.
Having dominated the opening leg, Noël was nearly a full second ahead of Foss-Solevåg at the final checkpoint in his second trip down but the Frenchman — who won the season’s opening slalom and was an overwhelming favorite — lost control and fell to the snow as he cleared the penultimate gate then slid across the finish line on the wrong side of the final gate.
“I’m really sorry for him. He was skiing really well; he’s been skiing great all season. But today I was skiing more stable,” said Foss-Solevåg, who placed second behind Noël in the opening leg.
Noël, who had also just dominated a second-tier Europa Cup slalom, couldn’t immediately process what happened.
“It was a great race until two gates of the finish. I really don’t know how it’s possible to fall (like) that,” he said. “On the steep part, I heard the speakers said I was super green so I just knew that I just had to ski normal at the end. So I tried just to ski calm. I really don’t know. It happened so fast, I don’t know how to explain that fall. But that’s ski racing sometimes.”
It was the third slalom win of 2021 for Foss-Solevåg, who also won at Flachau, Austria, in January, and at the worlds in Cortina d’Ampezzo in February.
Foss-Solevåg finished .10 seconds ahead of defending overall champion Alexis Pinturault, who moved up from fifth in the first leg.
Kristoffer Jakobsen of Sweden finished third, a mere hundredth behind Pinturault, to follow up his second-place finish 10 days ago in Val d’Isère, France, which marked the first podium result of his career.
The short Canalone course features a “Muro” (wall) with a gradient of 65% midway down. That’s where Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, a three-time winner of this race, straddled a gate in his second leg.
British contender Dave Ryding, who was fourth in the first leg, straddled at the start of his second run.
Austrians Marco Schwarz and Manuel Feller both failed to finish their opening runs, while Johannes Strolz, the top Austrian in the first leg, went out during his second trip down.
Christian Hirschbühl, the Austrian who won a parallel event last month, missed the race after testing positive for the coronavirus.
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