Henrik Kristoffersen

Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, 19, wins first World Cup race

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Mikaela Shiffrin isn’t the only teenage slalom phenom.

Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen won his first World Cup race Tuesday, taking a night slalom in front of a raucous crowd that included Arnold Schwarzenegger in Schladming, Austria.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Kristoffersen, who threw his ski poles to the ground, fell to the snow and pumped his arms after his second run, even though first-run leader Mario Matt still had to go. “To win my first World Cup race here in Schladming with 45,000, 50,000 spectators is just unbelievable.”

The Austrian Matt straddled a gate early in his second run, much to the disappointment of Schwarzenegger and the flare-waving crowd.

Kristoffersen won in a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.43 seconds. Another Austrian, world champion Marcel Hirscher, was second, .18 behind. German Felix Neureuther was third.

Americans Ted Ligety and Bode Miller straddled gates early in their first runs and did not qualify for the second run.

Ligety led Matt at the first split, encouraging for him. Ligety did win three World Championships in Schladming last February, but none of them came in slalom, one of his weaker events.

“This is aggressive snow and I was going for it,” Ligety said, according to The Associated Press. “I just started cutting in too soon. It’s always a bummer to straddle. It’s unfortunate. At least I was skiing pretty well. I feel like had my setup pretty dialed in now where I can actually start to look for speed in slalom.”

Top American David Chodounsky had blood on his face, bib and suit after a gate slammed his nose in the first run, according to the AP. He finished 22nd.

This was the final slalom before the Winter Olympics.

Kristoffersen is squarely in the medal mix — perhaps the gold-medal mix — with four slalom podiums this season. He’s tied for second in the World Cup standings with Neureuther behind Hirscher after six races.

Kristoffersen would be the youngest male medalist in Olympic Alpine history if he wins a medal in Sochi.

“I haven’t thought that much about the Olympics, actually,” said Kristoffersen, a two-time junior world champion. “I’ve been more focused on World Cup races. Of course it’s a boost [for Sochi]. I get a little bit more pressure now, but it’s OK.”

The Alpine skiing World Cup continues with a downhill and a giant slalom in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on Saturday and Sunday. They are the final races before the Olympics.

Schladming Slalom
1. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) 1:47.43
2. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) 1:47.61
3. Felix Neureuther (GER) 1:47.62
4. Fritz Dopfer (GER) 1:47.71
5. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) 1:47.76
6. Mattias Hargin (SWE) 1:48.38
7. Manfred Moelgg (ITA)  1:48.99
8. Markus Larsson (SWE) 1:49.15
9. Steve Missillier (FRA) 1:49.27
10. Reinfreid Herbst (AUT) 1:49.30
22. David Chodounsky (USA) 1:51.04

Ryan Miller’s Sochi hockey mask unveiled

Ski jumping World Cup season kicks off in Poland

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The World Cup ski jump season opens Friday with men’s team and individual events in Wisla, Poland.

The host country had three of the top five jumpers in the overall standings last year. Defending champion Kamil Stoch placed third, Piotr Zyla was close behind in fourth, and Dawid Kubacki was fifth.

Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi dominated last year’s competition, finishing with 2,085 points to 1,349 for runner-up Stefan Kraft of Austria, the 2017 World Cup champion.

Kobayashi’s performance was a dramatic improvement over his previous season, when he finished no higher than sixth in any individual competition and was 24th overall. Last year, he had 15 wins and 23 podium finishes in 30 World Cup events, though he only managed fourth and 14th in the two world championship events.

The top American last season, Kevin Bickner, finished 51st overall, a drop from 39th the year before. He was 18th and 20th in the 2018 Olympic jumps.

Women’s World Cup action begins Dec. 6-8 in Lillehammer, Norway.

NBC Sports Gold will broadcast World Cup action throughout the season. This weekend, the qualifying jumps will air at noon ET Friday, the team event starts at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday, and the individual competition is at 6 a.m. Sunday.

MORE: Full ski jumping broadcast schedule

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Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

It is virtually impossible to avoid the name “Burton” once the snow starts falling at any given mountain around the world these days. The name is plastered on the bottoms of snowboards, embroidered on jackets, stenciled into bindings.

At a bar in Pyeongchang, South Korea, not far from where snowboarding celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Olympics last year, there was a wall filled with Burton pictures and memorabilia — as sure a sign as any of the global reach of a company founded in his garage in Londonderry, Vermont.

The company sponsored pretty much every top rider at one time or another — from Shaun White to Kelly Clark to Chloe Kim.

Carpenter watched all his champions win their Olympic golds from near the finish line, never afraid to grind away in the mosh pit of snowboarders and snowboarding fans that he helped create.

In an interview in 2010, he said he was happy with how far his sport had come, and comfortable with where it was going.

“I had a vision there was a sport there, that it was more than just a sledding thing, which is all it was then,” Burton said. “We’re doing something that’s going to last here. It’s not like just hitting the lottery one day.”

Lacy said details about the celebration of Burton’s life would be coming soon but, for now, “I’d encourage everyone to do what Jake would be doing tomorrow, and that’s riding. It’s opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake.”

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