Crowd favorite Marcel Hirscher straddled a gate while leading during his second slalom run in Kitzbuehel, Austria, allowing German rival Felix Neureuther to win in falling snow and under the lights.
Neureuther won in 1 minute, 53.23 seconds, followed by Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, who was .57 back. Italian Patrick Thaler took third on Friday night.
“It was such a tough race today, like serious, one of the hardest races I’ve ever skied,” said Neureuther, who was in second place behind Hirscher after the early afternoon opening run. “I just wanted to do a safe second run, and it was enough.”
Neureuther is gaining on world champion Hirscher in the slalom, having captured two in 2014 and finishing second in another. He’s also won a giant slalom in January.
Neureuther prevailed for the second time in his career in Kitzbuehel, where race winners have gondolas named in their honor.
“I already have a gondola, so another scratch, mark on the gondola,” he said.
Hirscher is the two-time reigning World Cup overall champion and the biggest challenger to Ted Ligety in the giant slalom. Hirscher had a .40 lead over Neureuther before he straddled a gate in the second run. He still finished, in 23rd place. Ligety was 15th.
Hirscher lost a chance to retake the overall World Cup lead from Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal.
Svindal, a speed racer as opposed to the technical Hirscher, is likely to pad that lead in the famed Hahnenkamm downhill Saturday.
In that race, Svindal will have to fend off American Bode Miller, who had the fastest training run by nearly one second Thursday.
The U.S. Olympic Alpine Skiing Team, which will surely include Ligety and Miller, is scheduled to be named Sunday.
1. Felix Neureuther (GER) 1:53.23
2. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 1:53.80
3. Patrick Thaler (ITA) 1:54.05
4. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 1:54.28
5. Luca Aerni (SUI) 1;54.33
6. Mattias Hargin (SWE) 1:54.45
7. Daniel Yule (SUI) 1:54.61
8. Manuel Feller (AUT) 1:54.66
9. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 1:54.78
9. Reinfreid Herbst (AUT) 1:54.78
15. Ted Ligety (USA) 1:55.39
18. Nolan Kasper (USA) 1:55.52