Sebastian Foss-Solevaag wins slalom world title after format change

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Norwegian Sebastian Foss-Solevaag won the men’s slalom, the final race of the world Alpine skiing championships, after a criticized format change.

Foss-Solevaag, a 29-year-old who notched his first World Cup victory last month, prevailed by .21 of a second over surprise first-run leader Adrian Pertl, the fourth and final man on Austrian’s slalom team.

“Of course, you always wish for it, and you always want it, but it’s a lot of people who are aiming for it,” Foss-Solevaag said. “It’s a small margin, and today was my day.”

Another Norwegian, Henrik Kristoffersen, took bronze.

ALPINE WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results

Foss-Solevaag was in third place after the first run, trailing Pertl by .16 and Italian Alex Vinatzer by .02.

He ended Norway’s 24-year slalom world title drought, its longest among the men’s events. He also ensured Norway left these worlds with an individual title after season-ending injuries to star Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and the promising Lucas Braathen, among others.

Foss-Solevaag ranks third in slalom in this season’s World Cup standings. Austrian Marco Schwarz, the world’s top-ranked slalom skier, straddled in the second run after placing eighth in the opener.

On Saturday night, the second run format was changed from a reverse order of the top 30 to a reverse order of the top 15.

Officials believed warmer weather would cause the course to deteriorate significantly and wanted the top-ranked skiers from the first run to go earlier in the order, before it wore down.

U.S. coaches, among others, criticized it. U.S. slalom coach Ryan Wilson called it “bull—-” on Saturday, NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino wrote for SkiRacing.com.

The lone American to finish was Benjamin Ritchie in 13th. Jeff Seymour and Luke Winters were 10th and 15th, respectively, after the first run but straddled in the second run.

The last (and only) U.S. man to earn a slalom medal at a standalone worlds was Billy Kidd in 1970, by far the longest drought for the U.S. in any event for either gender.

Four of the first 15 highly ranked starters in the first run failed to finish. Four of the top 15 going into the second run failed to finish.

The World Cup season resumes next weekend with women’s speed races and men’s giant slaloms.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who earned a medal in all four of her events at worlds, is next expected to race the following weekend with a giant slalom and slalom.

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