Kristoffersen locks up World Cup slalom title with race to spare
Marcel Hirscher wins event in Slovenia
Henrik Kristoffersen crowned his stellar World Cup slalom season by locking up the discipline title with a race to spare on Sunday.
The Norwegian finished runner-up to Marcel Hirscher in the next-to-last event, giving him an insurmountable 111-point lead over the Austrian going into the final race at St. Moritz, Switzerland, in two weeks.
"It's incredible," said Kristoffersen, who won six of nine slaloms this season. "A race before the (World Cup) finals, that's like Hirscher-style. It's a dream come true."
It's Kristoffersen's first crystal globe, and the second slalom title for a Norwegian skier after Kjetil Andre Aamodt won it 16 years ago. Four-time overall champion Hirscher had won the title the past three seasons.
The 21-year-old Norwegian lived up to his billing as one of skiing's most promising slalom talents. He won Olympic bronze in Sochi in 2014, and captured the junior world title that same year and again in 2015. This season he raised his total of World Cup wins to 10.
"It was an unbelievable season," Kristoffersen said. "Six wins, two times second, one time third, what's happening?"
Hirscher, who won the giant slalom title Saturday and has all but secured his fifth straight overall title, held on to his first-run lead to beat Kristoffersen in Sunday's race by 0.81. Stefano Gross of Italy came 1.11 back in third.
Julien Lizeroux of France, who was second after the opening run, went out after straddling the first gate of his final run.
After three years of dominating the discipline, Hirscher was full of praise for Kristoffersen.
"You have to congratulate Henrik for an amazing season. He's a real and true champion," the Austrian said.
Coming into the race with a 131-point deficit, Hirscher said he wasn't thinking about his slim chance of retaining the title.
"It was just a lot of fun," he said. "Most of the time I am thinking not to straddle and not to lose too much time because I need as many points as possible. But today it was just relaxed."
It was the last race for 2006 Olympic silver medalist Reinfried Herbst, who is retiring at age 37. The Austrian won nine World Cup slaloms and took the discipline title in 2010. The men's World Cup travels to Kvitfjell, Norway, for a downhill and a super-G next weekend.