Alpine Skiing: Season-First Victory For Neureuther In Naeba Slalom

The Asian races of the Men's Alpine Skiing World Cup finished with a slalom in Yuzawa Naeba.

Like in Saturday's giant slalom, Fritz Dopfer of Germany set the quickest first run. Closest to him came two Swedes; Mattias Hargin was trailing by only 0.02 seconds and André Myhrer was trailing by 0.22 seconds.

The overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria didn't finish the first run but straddled the fourth gate. His overall title rival Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway couldn't use the opportunity perfectly on the first run; he was in eighth place, trailing Dopfer by 0.79 seconds.

Deteriorating Conditions Change Course Of Race

The conditions deteriorated a lot during the second run. Michael Matt of Austria was able to benefit from his early start number; he set the quickest time of the second run and climbed from 22nd into sixth place. The first man to beat Matt's time was his countryman Marco Schwarz, 12th of the first run. Another Austrian, 11th, of the first run, Marc Digruber went between Schwarz and Matt.

The Austria trio was leading when it was the time for the slalom World Cup leader Henrik Kristoffersen's second run. In the deteriorating conditions, he could defend his lead over Schwarz but went only into fourth place.

Also others than Kristoffersen were struggling on the second run and the Austrian trio followed by Kristoffersen were still leading when Felix Neureuther, the first run's fifth, started his run. Although Neureuther couldn't match Schwarz's second run, he had enough of lead from the first run to claim the lead by 0.24 seconds.

Fourth of the first run, Stefano Gross of Italy couldn't defend his position on the second run but fell into 11th place in the final results. André Myhrer, third of the first run, had 0.34 seconds of lead over Neureuther, yet went into second place, only 0.05 seconds behind the German.

Mattias Hargin was the second of the first run but had a poor second run, finishing only 12th in the final results. Fritz Dopfer, the leader of the first run, concluded the race, aiming for his first win. Yet he still has to wait for his first first win; he fell into fourth place, allowing Marco Schwarz from the first run's 12th place to make the podium. Felix Neureuther achieved his first win in over a year while the second-placed André Myhrer achieved his first podium in a non-parallel race in over two years.

The seventh place was Kristoffersen's first finish outside top two in slalom this season. Still he extended the slalom World Cup lead and is now 216 points ahead of the second-placed Marcel Hirscher, with two slalom races and one city event remaining. He can secure the title already at the next race if his lead over Hirscher remains at at least 200 points. Neureuther is in third place, 393 points from Kristoffersen and thus out of title contention.

For the overall World Cup, Hirscher not finishing the race wasn't as costly as it might have been if Kristoffersen had finished higher. Kristoffersen caught Hirscher by 36 points to trail now by 88 points. The injured Aksel Lund Svindal is in third place, ahead of the fourth-placed Kjetil Jansrud who is 210 points behind Hirscher.

The men's World Cup continues in Chamonix on February 19-20 with an alpine combined and a downhill.