Schwarz wins after Feller stumbles in Schladming

Schladming may not have had the 45,000 strong crowd it is famed for but it still produced one of the most interesting, exciting and intriguing races of the season. Marco Schwarz became the first two time winning on the tour this season with victory from French duo Clement Noel and Alexis Pinturault. Sebastian Foss-Solevaag and Ramon Zenhausern rounded out the top five finishers.

With six winners from six rounds of the World Cup, predicting a seventh winner from the series this season was a tough call. When Daniel Yule's bad luck continued with a straddle on the first run, one of the possibilities was crossed off. When Michael Matt crashed out on the second run after having been third on the first run, another possibility was removed. Alexis Pinturault produced the fastest second run time to go into the lead with ten to go but this would ultimately bring him up to third.

Marco Schwarz is fast becoming the athlete that will finally take over the mantel of Marcel Hirscher. Two wins in slalom this season after coming down from sixth after the first run, almost nine tenths off the pace set by Feller to take over the lead from Pinturault, has shown that he has the metal to challenge for wins despite being off the pace on the first run.

Henrik Kristoffersen gave an early indication of the course conditions after a first run that had seen him nearly head home early. 2.60 off Feller's time despite going 7, saw him disconsolate. Going seven again on run two (24th place) saw him post the third fastest time and make the biggest leap up the rankings into 11th overall.

Fresh snow fell all the way through the race and was more evident on the second run. Feller used the perfect conditions on the first run to the best of his ability in setting the fastest time. On run two, American Jett Seymour went first and finally got down but was off the pace after having had to hike up.

With Schwarz leading in the finish from Noel and Pinturault, Michi Matt crashed out half way down (and with it maybe his chances of going to the World Championships), then Sebastian Voss-Solevaag literally fought his way down through the falling snow having lost the lens from his goggles.

This left Feller looking to edge closer to retaking the lead in the standings if he could win. Feller just did not seem to be on the same game plan as he was on run one and on the flat section at the top he stumbled and crashed out.

“It’s pretty amazing to win in Schladming, it’s the classic to win. It was tough to come back from sixth place in the first run, but to win feels pretty amazing,” said Schwarz after the win.

For Dave Ryding this was a strange night. On run one he was one of a group of racers that were affected by a change in weather conditions that ate up time for them and then had to contend with a huge gust of wind as he came off the flat and on to the steep section.

After the race, he explained: "Gave it a good go second run. Seemed to get the worse of the weather with that swirling wind, horrendous watching it back on the TV. Not really on the pace tonight, difficult out there."

Ryding went from 20th after run 1 up to 15th after run 2 and with this moves up into tenth in the Slalom Standings One positive is he finished. "I didn't have what the top guys had today," he added.

With Billy Major gaining experience with his first trip to Schladming to race but finishing 39th and Laurie Taylor crashing out early on on the first run, this was a steady night for the British team. Next up is a double header in Chamonix. The good news for the three British racers is that Tristan Glasse Davies is setting the first run!

The race saw the culmination of Julien Lizeroux's racing career. 172 World Cup starts produced three wins in almost twenty years of racing on the World Cup. He announced his retirement with a great video on Facebook (click here). Thank you for all the memories Julien!

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