CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) – Norway’s Sebastian Foss-Solevaag twisted his way down a rutted and slushy piste to take men’s slalom gold in the final race of the Cortina d’Ampezzo Alpine skiing world championships on Sunday.
Austria’s Adrian Pertl, surprise leader after the first run on a clear and sunny morning in the Italian resort, had to settle for silver with Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen taking the bronze.
The second leg started with the top 15 from the first run going in reverse order, rather than top 30, to try and lessen the effect of warm temperatures.
Foss-Solevaag was the first Norwegian to win the world slalom title since Tom Stiansen in Sestriere in 1997, also on Italian snow, and his country’s sole individual champion of 2021.
He also helped Norway to team gold last Wednesday.
“At the start I knew that Henrik was leading by a lot so I knew that if I wanted to be on the podium I had to be really fast,” said Foss-Solevaag, who was third after the first run with Kristoffersen sixth.
“Today I gave it everything and it was a good day,” added the delighted Norwegian, whose second run was 0.37 quicker than Pertl’s and 0.24 better than his compatriot’s effort.
The final gap between gold and silver was 0.21.
“I haven’t seen the whole team yet so when I’m meeting the rest of the team I’m going to cry like a baby,” Foss-Solevaag told Eurosport.
Italy’s Alex Vinatzer had been second after the first leg but ended up fourth.
“The first run was actually pretty icy but it was very uneven… because they tried to water (the piste) yesterday and they messed it up, a little bit like usual,” said Kristoffersen, winner of 19 World Cup slaloms.
“Second run was more my conditions but I tried to push everything and I made a little too many mistakes, some small mistakes here and there which I lost some time on.”
The piste took a heavy toll, with some of the pre-race favourites straddling gates.
Austria’s Marco Schwarz, leader of the slalom World Cup standings and gold medallist in combined, straddled on the second run.
France’s overall World Cup leader Alexis Pinturault, who crashed in Friday’s giant slalom with victory in sight, finished seventh and a second and a half off the pace.
Compatriot Jean-Baptiste Grange, the 2011 and 2015 world slalom champion, straddled on the first leg.
Austria ended up top of the medal table with five golds from a championships held without fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Switzerland were second with three golds and France and Norway had two each.
Foss-Solevaag was one of five skiers to finish with two golds, the others being Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami, Austria’s Katharina Liensberger and Vincent Kriechmayr and France’s Mathieu Faivre.
Hosts Italy ended up with just two medals – Marta Bassino’s women’s Parallel gold and Luca De Aliprandini’s men’s giant slalom silver.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman/Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)