Foss-Solevaag is the new Slalom World Champion

It was a race that was mired in controversy from the night before but when hit came to the racing, Sebastian Foss-Solevaag produced the goods that saw him become the fourth Norwegian to win the Gold medal at the World Championships. Adrian Pertl took the silver with Henrik Kristoffersen happy to take the bronze. Despite finishing fourth Alex Vinatzer was happy with fourth ahead of Daniel Yule and istok Rodes, the big surprise from the second run.

With fifteen racers being flipped from the first run, the second run kicked off with Luke Winters, one of three Americans to be in the mix after the first run. The first run had seen an abnormally high number of racers straddle and Winters made it one more as he blew a great chance to really challenge for a big result. just 1.12 off the lead of Pertl after the first run, Winters frustration was there for all to see when he straddled half way down.

From bib 31 on the first run, Istok Rodes from Croatia then put in what looked like a conservative and tidy run but not one many felt would still be around the business end of the results for long. How wrong people can be.

Three much more fancied racers came and went: Michael Matt, Armand Marchand and Stefan Hadalin all did their best but maybe tried too hard to master the hard icy conditions at the top of the course and then could not adjust to the softening snow and then the salted snow. Rodes stayed in the leaders enclosure.

The second of the Americans to make the second run in the fifteen, Jett Seymour, bib 43, then joined his teammate in straddling.

Daniel Yule has had. by many fans opinion, a disappointing season after the incredible heights he achieved last year. Yule had been on the cusp of not making the Swiss team for the Championships but the faith of the selectors was rewarded with a solid, confidence boosting seoicnd run that saw him take the lead. How relaxed he looked in the leaders enclosure.

How long Yule would stay in the leader remained to be seen. next up was the leader of the Slalom World Cup, Marco Schwarz.

Schwarz was looking in solid form as he made the transitions from the ice to the softening snow and then onto the salted snow. Then disaster as he straddled. Would this be Austria's last chance of a medal at the Championships gone?

When Pinturault dropped off the pace, you could sense the endeavours of the French superstar had taken their toll on him. Despite not having raced in the parallel events, Pinturault ended the Championships with a bronze from the Super G and a silver from the Alpine Combined. he had hoped for a medal in the Giant Slalom but that is another race report!

There was one man that this race was all about. Henrik Kristoffersen had explained how much he had trained on salted snow over the years and his determination was written across his face as he left the start on the second run. Determination, fire, aggression, Kristoffersen wanted to take something home badly.

The Norwegian put in a great shift, transitioning well between the snow changes. He needed a big lead over Yule but Yule would not let him get away. The Norwegian maestro attacked and at the end he had a good lead. Good but was it enough. He lead by three quarters of second. To be in the lead in these conditions was the best place to be. Straddles, softening snow and expectation were all taking their toll.

There were still five to go.

Clement Noel was the first and he was looking in fine fettle before losing the grip and losing his chance.

Kristoffer Jakobsen has had a scintillating season and will be a star on the tour if his upwards trajectory continues. Not today though. He crashed out as well.

With three to go, Kristoffersen was in the finish with the danger of being pushed out out of the medals. When his teammate came down and took the lead, you had to fear for Kristoffersen.

Foss-Solevaag is a quiet understated member of the elite level of Slalom racing. This season he has taken his first World Cup win but attacking from third saw him juice as much speed from his Volkl skis at every opportunity. The Norwegian was attacking and wanted to add to his haul from the Championships, he had taken a Gold in the Team Parallel.

When Alex Vinatzer went into third and then Pertl came down to go into second, the 2021 Championship was decided. Pertl and Vinatzer are young and will be back to challenge at the top again in the future. This was a high class slalom with so many sub plots and good stories. If only the weather had stayed cold and the race had been in winter conditions not end of season conditions. These were the World Championships though.

The British team came into the race on a high with Billy Major having won his second Europa Cup of the season just prior to the race. But on the flip side, the physical condition of the lead racer, Dave Ryding was not installing confidence due to a niggling back injury. All three racers, including Laurie Taylor produced runs that had the British Ski Racing public drooling with how they attacked and looked like they really wanted to let their skiing do the talking. Impressive does not do their skiing justice, they gave it their all.

Sadly none made it to the finish but this was a day that they left with their reputations enhanced beyond belief and the sponsor, Mark Quinn of Quinn Estates, absolutely purring with pride. They all now head for a rest before Major and Taylor head back to the Europa Cup tour.

Full results

All pictures Zoom Agence

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