From 29th to 1st! Stunning World Cup slalom result in Wengen

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WENGEN, Switzerland — Soaring from 29th place after the first run, Lucas Braathen scored a stunning win in a World Cup slalom on Sunday.

Braathen sat in the finish-area leader’s box for 45 minutes looking steadily more disbelieving until watching the last racer, his Norway teammate Henrik Kristoffersen, straddle a gate within sight of a clear victory.

The error gifted the win to Braathen who was almost one second faster than any rival in the second run on snow that was cutting up in the warm sunshine.

In the end, Braathen was 0.22 seconds ahead of Daniel Yule of Switzerland. The 2010 Olympic champion, Guiliano Razzoli of Italy, was 0.29 back in third for his best result in six years at age 37.

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Braathen’s win was also remarkable for starting the day among the low-ranked racers wearing bib No. 31.

It was the second straight Sunday that a Swiss slalom was won by an outsider, after Johannes Strolz wore No. 38 to victory at nearby Adelboden.

“Words cannot describe how grateful I am,” said the 21-year-old Braathen, whose ranking dipped after a season-ending knee injury one year ago in the Adelboden giant slalom.

Before his serious injury, Braathen showed his talent by winning the season-opening giant slalom at Soelden, Austria in October 2020.

Braathen had also been fast in the first run Sunday, until losing his rhythm in the bottom half to barely qualify among the top 30 racers who advance to the second leg.

“After my mistake in the first run I was eager to redeem myself in the second,” said Braathen, whose father is Norwegian and mother Brazilian.

Braathen was helped by getting early use of the second run snow surface and a gate setting designed by a Norway team coach.

A steep and tricky middle section saw several racers crash out. Italian prospect Alex Vinatzer lost one ski, Christian Hirschbuehl of Austria lost both and Luca Aerni of Switzerland was launched into the air with both skis high off the snow.

All three men on the podium posted their best results of the season, and Yule’s runner-up finish was the best by a Swiss slalom skier at Wengen for 23 years.

Razzoli now has four straight top-10 finishes in a career-reviving season heading to the Beijing Olympics next month.

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