Hargin wins men’s World Cup slalom for 1st career victory
KITZBUEHEL, Austria (AP) — Screaming for joy and smashing his poles on the snow, Swedish skier Mattias Hargin celebrated his first career World Cup victory on Sunday.
Third after the opening leg, Hargin used a flawless second run to land his maiden win at the slalom of the classic Hahnenkamm races.
“Normally, I am very calm but this is incredible,” Hargin said. “Finally I’ve made it. It feels great the win has come here in Kitz.”
Hargin posted the second-fastest time in the final run and finished in a total of 1 minute, 43.10 seconds.
First-run leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria overcame a mistake halfway down his final run to finish 0.49 behind in second.
Felix Neureuther of Germany, who won the race a year ago and also triumphed in Wengen, Switzerland, last week, finished third and remained in the lead of the discipline standings with 480 points, 24 clear of Hirscher.
“Usually I lose time in the second run,” Hargin said. “Maybe it was an advantage not to lead after the first run and to just push hard in the second.”
The 29-year-old Hargin has finished on a podium three times since making his World Cup debut eight years ago. He came closest to a win last season when he finished runner-up to Olympic champion Mario Matt of Austria at a slalom in Val d’Isere, France.
“It’s so hard to win a race competing against guys like Hirscher and Neureuther,” Hargin said.
The Swede drew praise from his rivals for landing Sweden’s first World Cup victory since Andre Myhrer won a slalom in Levi in November 2012.
“Mattias has raced incredibly. Hats off! He’s the deserved winner,” Hirscher said.
The Austrian led Hargin by 0.42 after the opening run and extended that lead to 0.62 before a costly mistake threw him off the race line. He quickly recovered to stay in the race but had lost seven-tenths.
The course worsened during the race, with ruts getting deeper and the cloudy weather limiting visibility.
“With second place and 160 points this weekend, I can’t complain,” said Hirscher, who also finished runner-up in Friday’s combined event. “A home race in Kitzbuehel doesn’t leave me cold. I do get nervous standing in the start gate and thousands of people waiting for your run.”
Hirscher was chasing his 16th career win in the discipline, which would have placed him in shared third with Luxembourg’s Marc Girardelli on the all-time winners’ list behind Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark (40) and Italy’s Alberto Tomba (35).
Neureuther was fifth after the opening leg, as he was last week on his way to victory in Wengen. The German has won nine World Cup races but is yet to win back-to-back slaloms.
“It’s a different race. The course set is different, the hill is different,” the German skier said. “I am totally happy. You can’t begrudge it to (Mattias) as this was a convincing and deserved win.”
Alexander Khoroshilov of Russia, who was 0.19 behind Hirscher in second after the opening leg, struggled in his final run and lost speed after several mistakes before finishing in sixth.
Ted Ligety was disqualified for missing a gate in the first run, leaving David Chodounsky in 26th as the only American to score World Cup points.
The men’s World Cup travels to nearby Schladming for a night slalom on Tuesday, the final race before the world championships start in Beaver Creek on Feb. 2.