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.
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