FLACHAU, Austria (AP) — Sebastian Foss-Solevaag earned his first World Cup win Sunday, boosting the morale of the Norwegian ski team after it was hit by a series of season-ending injuries.
Foss-Solevaag won a slalom in dominating style, clocking the fastest time in both runs to beat Marco Schwarz by 0.76 seconds, a week after the Austrian had captured his first career win.
“The second run was a dream run,” the Norwegian said.
Foss-Solevaag’s maiden win came a day after his teammate Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the defending overall champion, became the third Norwegian in eight days to be ruled out by a severe knee injury.
After Lucas Braathen and Atle Lie McGrath picked up season-ending injuries at a giant slalom in Switzerland last week, Kilde tore ligaments in his right knee in a crash during super-G training in Austria on Saturday.
“We are not the biggest team,” said Foss-Solevaag, who called his triumph “a team victory.”
“We are the attacking Vikings, we are working together. I wouldn’t have done it without them, any of the coaches and the teammates,” he said. “This shows us that we (have) a good team spirit, and it also shows than another (racer) of our team can also win. That’s nice.”
Foss-Solevaag became the sixth different winner in six slaloms this season.
“It’s a lot of guys who ski fast. Everybody is going all-in and then it’s a really fun race,” said the Norwegian, who had three previous podiums in the discipline, most recently at a night race in Italy in December.
Overall World Cup leader Alexis Pinturault climbed from eighth position after the opening run to third, 0.95 behind Foss-Solevaag.
The Frenchman is a strong favorite for the overall title following Kilde’s injury.
Pinturault leads with 778 points ahead of Kilde with 560, but Marco Odermatt of Switzerland, who has 501, has now become the Frenchman’s closest challenger.
Apart from Schwarz, the Austrian team had two more racers in the top four after the opening run.
Fabio Gstrein missed his first career podium after he dropped to fifth.
And a day after winning on the same Hermann Maier course, Manuel Feller had a costly mistake in his final run as he just avoided skiing out and finished 17th.
Henrik Kristoffersen, who won the season-long slalom title last year, finished seventh. The Norwegian changed his equipment overnight and used new boots and skis after finishing 18th in Saturday’s race.
Clement Noel and Linus Strasser were among the favorites who failed to finish their opening runs.
Noel started out as the fastest racer on the course. The Frenchman carved out a big lead of 0.89 seconds at only the second check point before sliding off the track.
Strasser, who won in Zagreb 11 days ago, also failed to finish his run after the German straddled a gate.
The men’s World Cup will stay in Austria for two downhills and a super-G in Kitzbuehel next weekend.
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