Kristoffersen emerges from the fog in Alta Badia to win

Henrik Kristoffersen took the race win and with it moved into the lead of both the Giant Slalom and Overall Globe standings. Brutal conditions and a race against time to miss an incoming storm saw the racers up against it with fog, a shortened course and extreme slope conditions. Kristoffersen headed the field with Cyprien Sarrazin in second and Zan Kranjec in third for a Rossignol lock out of the podium. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde took a hugely impressive fourth and Marco Odermatt fifth.

The first run had seen an impressive performance by Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen to take the lead from Odermatt and Alexis Pinturault in third. With the new course came new challenges and it was the French racer Sarrazin that raised his game to power into the lead from 22nd. It took until Kristoffersen came down from sixth before he was dislodged from the leaders enclosure.

The closest his lead came to being ended was when Kranjec came down and in the run in to the finish, the Slovenian had to change course as a course office was casually walking across the finish line. Kranjec had no chance to stop but it could be argued that the movement could have cost him more than the eight hundredths he was behind Sarrazin. the official was lucky to escape with just the shock of a racer heading to him at speed!

With each of the remaining five after Kristoffersen failing two better his time, the smile on the Norwegian became broader and broader with all the permutations falling in his favour. In Soelden, Pinturault looked invincible yet since then the French racer has been off the mark in Giant Slalom. His commanding win in the Slalom in Val d'Isere has faded into the memory banks now.

Sarrazin was the class act for the French team as he returned to the slope he won his only World Cup race, the Parallel GS race in 2016. To rise from 22nd to second was a truly impressive performance and his style could and maybe should have been replicated by his more illustrious teammates. With each racer making the course more rutted and bumpy, Sarrazin had used his relatively early start on the second run to great advantage in setting a great target time. In the end it was only Kristoffersen that was able to better it.

Sarrazin reflected after the race: "I didn't expect that! I seriously injured myself here last year, but I won here three years ago. I like this route - but I didn't expect that."

With the race for the Overall seeing Kristoffersen take over the lead from Matthias Mayer, the performance of Kilde was truly impressive. Starting after the top 30 seeds had been down with conditions worsening, Kilde used his brute force strength on the first run two power into fifth and then while not quite as destructive on the second run, he held his own against the Giant Slalom specialists.

After the race Kristoffersen commented: "It is better to lead after the first run - it is easier. It was perhaps the most difficult Giant Slalom in my career today. It was brutal. I think everyone is not happy with the preparation - but it was the same for everyone. In the first run with number 2 I thought: what is going on, it is not possible. Racers who went later said it was better. I am very pleased that I was the first Norwegian to win here."

Marco Odermatt has been a revelation this season. It has widely been acknowledged that he is a future star in the making after winning multiple World Junior Championship medals in 2018 (Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Alpine Combined) and then winning his first World Cup race in Beaver Creek this season. Odermatt had the strength to recover from catching his edge at speed and make it to the finish. While he would have hoped to have stayed on the podium, he finished fifth but collapsed in the finish clutching his left knee.

With qualifying for the Parallel GS race to take place in the early afternoon on Monday, more World Cup points will be up for grabs before the World Cup takes a break for Christmas.

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Picture credit Zoom Agence

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