July 25th, 2024

Standout slalom skier Manuel Feller denies Norway racers emotional World Cup win after Kilde crash

By The Associated Press on January 14, 2024.

WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) – World Cup slalom leader Manuel Feller denied the Norwegian men an emotional win Sunday, one day after their team leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde crashed in downhill and was airlifted from the Wengen course.

Feller edged Atle Lie McGrath for victory for a second straight Sunday, by 0.10 seconds instead of the 0.02 margin one week earlier at nearby Adelboden.

McGrath said after setting the fastest first-run time in the morning he was “just skiing for Aleksander today.”

The Vermont-born McGrath protected his lead through every time check in the afternoon until losing almost four-tenths of a second through the twisting final section. He put his right hand to helmet in the finish area seeming not to have understood how the win slipped away.

“I probably need to thank him (McGrath) for pushing me,” Feller said. “My skiing is probably the best I have ever shown.”

Toronto’s Justin Alkier and Erik Read of Calgary didn’t qualify.

Henrik Kristoffersen, the Norwegian world champion, dropped to place third, trailing 0.21 behind Feller who had been third-fastest in the morning.

Feller now has won three of four slalom races this season and extended his lead in the discipline standings with McGrath now second.

McGrath produced the standout run of the morning acknowledging “I didn’t sleep much last night,” reflecting on Kilde’s hard crash Saturday into course-side fences by the finish line.

Before the race Sunday, Kilde posted a photograph from his hospital bed with partner Mikaela Shiffrin in Bern where he had surgery.

The Norwegian ski federation said Kilde had a disclocated shoulder and a cut to his right calf but no fractures.

“It was tough to see. I didn’t sleep much last night,” McGrath told Swiss broadcaster RTS of Kilde’s crash. “That kind of put things in perspective, when someone gets injured that bad which is really scary.

“I realize I’m just lucky to be here,” said the 23-year-old McGrath, whose father Felix raced slalom for the United States at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

He described the Wengen slalom as “one of the most legendary races” and a quirk of the course – raced on a slope adjoining the downhill with a shared finish area – is the two runs go either side of an old farm building in the middle of the hill.

Austria had not won this race since Marcel Hirscher in 2018, in the seventh of his record eight straight seasons lifting the overall World Cup title. In Hirscher’s last race at Wengen the following year he placed third, when Feller was runner-up to Clément Noël.

Noël, the 2022 Olympic champion in slalom, placed fourth Sunday using the fastest second-leg run to rise eight places.

Marco Odermatt, who won both downhills at Wengen but does not race in slalom, has double the number of points of any rival in the overall standings chasing a third straight title.

The men’s World Cup now moves to storied Austrian venue Kitzbühel where the Hahnenkamm race Saturday is the most feared and prized downhill on the men’s circuit. A slalom is raced there next Sunday.

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More AP skiing: https://apnews.com/hub/skiing

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