Kristoffersen storms to Garmisch win

Henrik Kristoffersen survived the soft snow conditions to win the first race after the Olympics with victory in Garmisch Partenkirchen. Loic Meillard took second with Austrian Manuel Feller in third. The top five were rounded out by Johannes Strolz and Daniel Yule. Britain's Dave Ryding placed 20th.

Garmisch is not a regular stop for the men on the World Cup Slalom tour, it is usually a speed race with a Giant Slalom tagged on so this was a fairly even contest for many. The last time racers had competed here was for the World Cup Finals in 2010. Of todays racers only Giuliano Razzoli raced the last time they were here. The 2011 World Championships also took place down the same hill.

Racing in the old Olympic Stadium from the 1936 Olympics, this is not one of the hardest hills on the tour but the difficulty was compounded by the warm conditions and the softening snow. Kristoffersen put in a strong first run charge that looked to have taken him into the lead but he was challenged strongly by Loic Meillard who posted a time 0.01 behind him. Just as the top thirty racers were starting to tail off, Tanguy Nef came down to take the lead 0.07 seconds ahead. This gave Switzerland a strong showing of three in the top four.

Britain's Dave Ryding struggled on the first run to finish joint 30th, 2.15 off the lead while Billy Major finished in joint 37th with Laurie Taylor crashing out. Ryding seemed to struggle with getting a solid purchase on the outside ski and it was touch and go as to whether he would make the second run at one stage.

The last time Ryding failed to qualify for the second run was in Kranjska Gora in March 2015. He has failed too finish first runs but Ryding is proud of this seven year run of qualifying when he has finished the first run.

Ryding was first down the second run and he threw everything at the hill in an effort to try and work his way up the leaderboard.

The power he generated out of some of the turns catapulted him into the next turn and yet Ryding battled on. A mistake at the second last gate almost saw him miss the last but he held his nerve and made it to set the pace in what would be the tenth fastest second run time.

The fastest second run time would be set by the man Ryding shared 30th peace with, Filip Zubcic who would go on to finish 13th.

The man of the second this year has to Johannes Strolz. A win run Adelboden, a silver medal in Beijing and to think he was not on the Austrian team at the beginning of the season such was the lack of belief of the Austrian management in him.

Strolz posted the third fastest second run to move up from ninth to fourth overall just behind his compatriot Manuel Feller. With Meillard taking the lead from Feller with two to go, this had all the hallmarks of a thrilling race.

When Kristoffersen then took the lead, the worry for the Norwegian was that Nef would hold on for the win. With just one podium to his name in Slalom this season, in Kitzbühel, Kristoffersen has been a little random on the short skis this season before this race.

A mistake at the top that saw him ski wide gave many the feeling that the chances of a 25th World Cup race win had gone but after he came off the steep on to the flat, the Norwegian fought to the line to go 0.14 ahead. It was one of the great comeback runs. It was all about belief in himself and keeping foot down.

Nef was leading the race at the first and then the second split before straddling as he came on to the flat. Pure frustration after looking to put the disappointment of not being selected for the Olympics behind him.

For Quinn Estates sponsored racer, Dave Ryding, he finished in 20th and picked up another 11 World Cup points. Ryding now sits 9th in the season long standings and 11th in the WCSL standings. Despite crashing out on the first run Lucas Braathen still leads the Slalom World Cup standings, now by only one point from his compatriot Kristoffersen. Ryding is not out of the hunt being 75 points back.


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