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Kristoffersen again edges Hirscher in World Cup slalom duel

January 15, 2017
First placed Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen celebrates at the end of an alpine ski, men's World Cup Slalom in Wengen, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
First placed Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen celebrates at the end of an alpine ski, men's World Cup Slalom in Wengen, Switzerland, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

WENGEN, Switzerland (AP) — Henrik Kristoffersen’s hot streak in World Cup slalom extended to his fourth win of the season on Sunday, and Marcel Hirscher was runner-up yet again.

Defending a first-run lead, Kristoffersen dropped behind Hirscher at the last time check but the Norwegian raced through the final gates for a 0.15-second winning margin. Felix Neureuther of Germany was 0.63 back in third.

“I’m really happy about the race today,” said Kristoffersen, who also won last Sunday at nearby Adelboden. “At the moment, it’s pretty decent.”

Hirscher seemed to have been expecting victory, and put on a weary expression in the finish area while holding up a thumb and forefinger slightly apart to suggest how close he had been.

Kristoffsersen thumped his chest with his right fist upon crossing the line, then skied over to share an embrace with the Austrian star.

Kristoffersen now leads the World Cup slalom standings from Hirscher, who has been runner-up in three of his rival’s victories.

Still, Hirscher extended his clear lead in the overall standings with Kristoffersen rising to second.

“It’s not always about winning,” said Hirscher, the five-time defending overall champion. “Another 80 points in the bank is definitely a good result.”

The 22-year-old Kristoffersen’s 14th career World Cup victory was his 13th in slalom, and completed back-to-back wins at the Swiss venues for the second straight year.

Norway’s men now have eight wins this season — four each for Kristoffersen and speed specialist Kjetil Jansrud. The small Scandinavian team also won 19 races in a standout 2016 season.

Hirscher has had to get used to being runner-up, at Wengen and against Kristoffersen. Hirscher has 41 career World Cup race wins, but none at this storied venue where he has placed second three times in slalom.

After two slaloms affected by the weather in January, the conditions offered a fair test Sunday.

Light morning snow dusted the race hill adjoining the course for the classic downhill that was canceled Saturday due to heavy overnight snow.

Kristoffersen had a dominating win by 1.83 seconds at foggy Adelboden, but 13 racers had been within a second of the defending World Cup champion in Sunday’s morning run.

On a weekend of surprise results in men’s and women’s races, the low-ranked No. 46 starter Christian Hirschbuehl leaped up to place fourth, trailing Kristoffersen by 0.75.

Both standout slalom skiers played down Kristoffersen’s current domination ahead of the world championships race on Feb. 19, also in Switzerland at St. Moritz.

“That doesn’t matter,” said Hirscher, whose slalom win at Levi, Finland, in November came when Kristoffersen skipped the race due to a sponsorship dispute with Norway’s ski federation.

Kristoffersen said the St. Moritz event was “a totally different hill. A lot of things can happen before then.”