Marcel Hirscher, Wendy Holdener win Stockholm parallel slalom races
Austrian increases lead in men's overall standings; Kristoffersen criticizes event
Marcel Hirscher won a parallel slalom in central Stockholm on Tuesday to increase his lead in the overall World Cup standings, while Wendy Holdener of Switzerland clinched the women's event for her first career victory.
Lindsey Vonn was beaten in the opening round but the American retained her 23-point overall lead over Lara Gut of Switzerland.
In the men's final of the first city event in three years, the Austrian edged Andre Myhrer of Sweden by 0.06 seconds. Hirscher extended his advantage over Henrik Kristoffersen to 173 points as the Norwegian lost to teammate Kjetil Jansrud in the first round.
"Six-hundreds is nothing, you can't say who was better or worse. Luck was on my side today," said Hirscher, who is chasing his fifth straight overall championship. "These are incredibly important 100 points, of course. It's great to be finally laughing again from the highest step of the podium."
Hirscher, who claimed his sixth win of the season but only the first in seven weeks, played down his lead.
"It's still tense. I know I've been more than 200 points behind in the past and it still all changed at the World Cup finals," said the Austrian, who also won the previous city event in Moscow in 2013.
Stefano Gross of Italy took third after beating Alexander Khoroshilov of Russia in the small final.
The slalom top 12 and the four best ranked skiers from the overall standings were allowed to start in the event, where racers compete head-to-head in a knock-out format, with the winner over two runs advancing to the next round.
Kristoffersen earned 15 points for his first-round exit and still holds a strong 131-point lead over Hirscher in the discipline standings with two slaloms left this season.
The Norwegian criticized city events also counting toward the slalom standings.
"It's not the same as a slalom. It's not good to give points for the slalom globe," Kristoffersen said.
In the women's competition, Holdener rallied to beat home crowd favourite Frida Hansdotter by 0.05 seconds after losing the opening run of the final. Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden came third.
"It was brilliant," said Holdener after landing her first win in her 99th World Cup race. "It's a bit different from winning a real slalom but I am over the moon."
Despite losing the final, Hansdotter has all but secured the slalom globe, holding a 139-point lead over Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia with two races remaining.
Three-time slalom World Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin, who returned last week from a two-month injury layoff, skipped the event. Left without a chance of retaining her title, the American decided against travelling to Sweden and to focus on giant slalom and super-G training instead.
Vonn was relieved that her overall lead wasn't affected by her early exit as her main rival, Lara Gut of Switzerland, also lost her first duel — against Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia.
"I've made 15 points, that was important," Vonn said. "I haven't skied a dual slalom in three years so I think I did pretty well considering."
Like Kristoffersen, the American said the allocation of World Cup points for a city event should be changed.
"I think everyone should get a certain amount of points, maybe 15 or 20 points," said Vonn, adding that first, second and third place should be awarded with "big prize money."
"That way it's a little bit more fair for the overall and for the slalom title as well," she said. "But I really like these events and I think they are very important for ski racing."
The women's World Cup continues this weekend with a super-G and a combined event in Soldue-El Tarter, Andorra, while the men travel to Hinterstoder, Austria for two giant slaloms and a super-G.