Kristoffersen in second
The Norwegian alpine ski racer is off to a promising start in the World Cup season
Jo Christian Weldingh
Henrik Kristoffersen was in the lead and the favorite to win after his second run in the season-opening World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 12, but Felix Neureuther proved too strong. The German beating Kristoffersen with 0.37 seconds and second runner-up Swedish Mattias Hargin with 0.45 seconds.
Kristoffersen is a Norwegian World Cup alpine ski racer and Olympic medalist. He became the first to win the three classic slalom races in Adelboden, Wengen, and Kitzbühel in the same season—accomplished at age 21 in January 2016. During this run, he became the most successful Norwegian in the history of World Cup slalom competitions.
Kristoffersen seemed reasonably happy with second place when interviewed after the race. “I think it’s a good start. I’m very happy with second place. I have been sick the last couple of days, so I haven’t been able to prepare as well as I would have wanted, but I don’t think I would have beaten Felix today either way,” he said.
Kristoffersen was in third place after his first run, behind Neureuther and Dave Ryding from Great Britain. Ryding would have taken Great Britain’s first-ever slalom victory, but sadly (for every Brit interested in alpine skiing) he didn’t reach the finish line in his second run. While the day ended with frustration and despair for Ryding, it was a happy day for Neureuther. Neureuther, who recently became a father for the first time, celebrated his very first father’s day with a victory in Finland.
Kristoffersen, who is one of the biggest Norwegian medal favorites in next year’s Olympic Games, said he was quite happy with both his own physical form and his new equipment. “Something was good and other things weren’t that good. I think I might be able to improve my skiing in the steeper parts of the hill, and I gambled a bit by using a new type of boot, but it didn’t really matter. Regardless, it felt good starting the season with a positive experience like this, especially when the whole team performs this well,” he said, referring to his teammates, Sebastian Foss Solevåg and Leif Kristian Haugen, who finished in seventh and 15th place, respectively. Foss Solevåg was especially happy with his race: “Seventh place is better than all my slalom races last season, so I’m very happy today. Kicking off the season this well gives me the confidence and stability I need to perform my very best the rest of the season,” he said when interviewed in the press zone.
Last year Kristoffersen was in conflict with the Norwegian Skiing Federation about his personal sponsorship with Red Bull, a conflict that resulted in him being suspended from the first months of competition and probably cost him last season’s slalom cup to longtime rival Marcel Hirscher. Hirscher was fourth after his first run in Finland but had a terrible second run and ended up 17th, 1.32 seconds behind Neureuther. After breaking his ankle in August, Hirscher might need some time to reach his usual level of performance.
With last year’s conflict behind him, Kristoffersen had a great start of the season in Finland. “It’s always fun to be here with the guys. We’re skiing fast and that’s always cool. Now I’m going home to my girlfriend and my dog. I miss my girlfriend the most, but my dog is a close second,” he said with a smile.
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, but is currently living in Oslo. He has a BA in Archaeology from The University of Oslo and a BA in Business Administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 1, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.