On Sunday, Nov. 18, the men took to the Levi slalom course for the first FIS World Cup slalom event of the 2018-'19 season. Under the lights, it quickly became apparent that there were two dominant racers on the relatively flat course: Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen and Austrian Marcel Hirscher.
Because Levi's course isn't considered "steep," the racers must maintain near-perfect technique to carry as much speed through the course as possible, which suits these two skiers quite well. After the first run, Kristoffersen trailed Hirscher by .07 seconds, then put down a rock-solid second run.
Henrik Kristoffersen's Second Run, Levi 2018
Hirscher, back to his winning ways, responded by putting together an incredibly fast and fluid second run. He was just slightly faster than Kristoffersen, with a second run time of 55.77 seconds, a mere 0.02 seconds ahead of Kristoffersen. Overall, Hirscher's lead increased to 0.09 seconds, and he earned his third Finnish reindeer, whom he named Mr. Snow.
Marcel Hirscher's Second Run, Levi 2018
Behind these two, Swede André Myhrer finished third, 1.41 seconds off the fastest time. At age 35, the Olympic Gold Medalist became the oldest man to stand on a podium in a slalom event of the FIS World Cup.
The main name missing from the start list was Felix Neureuther, the winner of last year's FIS World Cup slalom in Levi. The German slalom specialist suffered a thumb injury the week prior to the event, and missed most of the 2017-'18 World Cup after tearing his ACL not long after last season's initial win in Levi. Until he returns, we expect to see Hirscher and Kristoffersen continue to dominate the technical events.
Read more: Mikaela Shiffrin wins Levi Slalom
In a stacked international field that has been dominated for some time by Europeans, the American men that raced deserve respect considering U.S. Ski and Snowboard does not have a men's slalom team at the World Cup level. Robbie Kelley of Starksboro, Vt. finished his first run with a time of 1:02.32, which was not fast enough to qualify for a second run. River Radamus of Edwards, Colo., Luke Winters of Gresham, Ore., Mark Engel of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Hig Roberts of Steamboat Springs, Colo., did not finish their first run.
The next alpine event for men will be the speed events in Lake Louise, Canada, with practice scheduled to start on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.