Who’s the king?
Kristoffersen wins sixth slalom this season
Jo Christian Weldingh
More than 50,000 people were present in Schladming, Austria, to see Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen win his sixth slalom in an impressive World Cup season, a feat previously achieved by only three of the biggest names in ski racing history. Austrian Marcel Hirscher came in second, 0.09 seconds behind, while Aleksandr Khoroshilov from Russia came in third, trailing Kristoffersen by 0.63 seconds.
Kristoffersen had disappointed on January 22 when he fell and didn’t finish in Kitzbühel, giving Marcel Hirscher an 80-point lead in the slalom cup, and he was clearly ready for revenge. After a near perfect first run, he was in the lead, half a second faster than Hirscher. Kristoffersen has yet to be defeated when he’s in the lead after his first run.
Both Hirscher and Khoroshilov did well in their second run and were in first and second place respectively before Kristoffersen’s second run. The Norwegian did not perform up to his potential in the first half of the slope, and halfway through he had lost his lead to Hirscher and was trailing by 0.14 seconds. But after a furious finish, he crossed the line 0.09 seconds faster than the Austrian.
After the race he revealed to the press that he knew he had to speed up towards the end to win: “I actually did not know that the finish bridge lights up green when you’re in front and red when you’re behind. My teammate told me this summer. Before the second run, I was like, ‘Don’t look at it! Don’t look at it!’ I came through the last split and was like, ‘I gotta look! No! It’s red; I gotta go!’ So I was a little stressed, but I think I charged it at the bottom there so it was pretty good.”
After he secured the victory, Kristoffersen celebrated with an emotional outburst. “Who’s the king? Who’s the king?” he yelled continuously while the spectators were cheering. “I’m not sure what I said. I was just very happy,” he said afterwards. “I said I didn’t care about what happened in Kitzbühel, but I did. Winning today felt good.”
“We have good reason to be optimistic for the World Championship in February,” ski racing legend and now television expert Kjetil Andre Aamodt said after watching Kristoffersen win his sixth race of the season.
The other Norwegians skiers didn’t perform up to their full potential, however. Leif Christian Haugen placed 15th after his first run but had a good second run and finished 11th. Sebastian Foss Solevaag had a decent second round and finished 17th, while Jonathan Nordbotten finished 21st after having his second run spoiled by a big mistake halfway through.
Henrik Kristoffersen specializes in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom. He made his World Cup debut in March of 2012 in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and attained his first podium in November 2013, a third-place finish in slalom at Levi, Finland. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Kristoffersen won the bronze medal in slalom at Rosa Khutor at age 19 to become the youngest male medalist in Olympic alpine skiing history.
Kristofferson is the first skier to win the four classic slalom races (Adelboden, Wengen, Kitzbühel, and Schladming) in a single season and the first racer since Alberto Tomba in the 1992 season to win six slalom races during a single season. He is also, at the age of 22, the Norwegian with most slalom victories in total.
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 Feb. 10, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.