Lucas Braathen tops Feller to ‘magical’ victory in men’s first slalom of the season

A flawless second run helped Lucas Braathen win the first World Cup slalom of the season on Sunday for the third victory of his career.

The Norwegian skier let out a whoop and thumped his chest after seeing his time on the board and then just had to wait for his compatriot and defending slalom World Cup champion Henrik Kristoffersen, who had a slight lead of 0, 07 seconds from the first run.

However, an error-filled run by Kristoffersen at the de Face de Bellevarde course in France dropped him to sixth in one minute 39.49 seconds, 1.35 behind Braathen.

“Man, I just want to do it again,” said Braathen, 22. “It’s an amazing feeling right now.

“I admit I’ve had a great pre-season, to be able to deliver what I’ve been delivering in practice today in the race was just amazing. I love this place so to be here on top of the podium.” Today is just magical.”

Braathen finished in 1:38.14, 0.84 ahead of Austrian Manuel Feller. Switzerland’s Loic Meillard (1:39.12) was third, 0.98 behind Braathen.

Erik Read from Calgary was the only Canadian to qualify for the second race and climbed nine places to place 21st out of 26 finishers. Montreal’s Simon Fournier was 47th (53.86) in the first race and did not advance, while Calgary’s Liam Wallace and North Vancouver, BC’s Asher Jordan did not finish the opening race.

CLOCK | Complete coverage of the Val d’Isere men’s slalom:

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Val d’Isere: Men’s Slalom

Enjoy the men’s slalom in Val d’Isere, France.

‘Place of hate and love’

Sunday’s competition ended a miserable run for Feller in the slalom in Val d’Isere after he failed to finish in his previous five starts on the course. He was 23rd in 2012, his first on the hill.

“It’s more like a place of hate and love combined because I think this was my second slalom finish in as many years,” Feller said.

“I was finishing my second World Cup race, my first time here, and then always DNF [did not finish]. That was also the reason why I didn’t risk it all in the second race.”

Olympic champion Clement Noel, silver medalist Johannes Strolz and Atle Lie McGrath were all out of the race on the first run after straddling the gates when three of the first nine skiers failed to finish.

Noel won on the local snow in Val d’Isere last year.

The battle for the slalom title was open last season with seven different winners in the first seven races of the discipline. It was the third title of the slalom season for Kristoffersen.

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