The Norwegian hit a gate with his left arm and nearly skied out after a few seconds but recovered from the mishap and charged down the Planai course in an unmatched pace, beating his rivals Alexis Pinturault and Daniel Yule.
“How is it possible to win a race after such a mistake?” Kristoffersen said in disbelief. “I saw 20 racers before my run, so why did I make that mistake there?” The Norwegian, who was second after the opening leg, also benefited from mistakes by first-run leader Marco Schwarz.
Chasing the first Austrian slalom win of the season, Schwarz slid off the race line at the sixth gate and wrongly passed the next gate. In front of his home crowd of 40,000, Schwarz still completed his run and finished five seconds off the lead, but he was disqualified for the gate error.
Kristoffersen said he had “no feeling in my left upper arm” after his accident. “After that mistake my head was gone. I just skied straight down,” he said. It was Kristoffersen's 17th career slalom win and fourth at this venue, tying a record set by the retired Austrian standout Benjamin Raich.
The result saw Kristoffersen's lead grow to 119 points over Pinturault in the overall standings, and to 57 over Yule in the slalom rankings. Pinturault was 0.34 behind in second, after the Frenchman failed to finish the previous two slaloms.
“This is a special result for me after what happened in Wengen and Kitzbuehel,” he said. “I am very satisfied, it was not so easy.” Yule, who got his third win of the season at the slalom in Kitzbuehel two days ago, finished 0.83 off the lead.
Looking for his third win of the season, Clement Noel nearly matched a World Cup record as he gained 26 places in the second run. The Frenchman was only 30th after the first run but posted the fastest time by far in the second and ended up in fourth.
Only one racer in the 53-year history of the men's World Cup climbed more places in the second run of a slalom, when Sweden's Mattias Hargin improved from 30th to third in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2011. Tuesday's race was briefly interrupted after a woman carrying a banner with the text “RIP Kobe” walked onto the course during Alex Vinatzer’s run.
The woman walked across the finish line and caused the clock as shown at the venue and on TV to stop, before the Italian had completed his run. However, an alternate system had recorded the correct time for Vinatzer, who finished sixth.
Kobe Bryant, the former NBA superstar, was killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday. The men's World Cup continues with a downhill and a giant slalom in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, this weekend.
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