Lucas Braathen leads first run of World Cup slalom race

ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP) — Lucas Braathen set the fastest first-run time in a World Cup slalom Sunday on a course that tricked several top contenders.

Braathen took a commanding 0.52 seconds lead over Loïc Meillard of Switzerland, who was third in the giant slalom on Saturday. Linus Strasser of Germany was third with 0.60 to make up in the afternoon run.

Only four racers were within a second of Braathen, including his Norway teammate Atle Lie McGrath in fifth. Norway also had Timon Haugan in a tie for sixth but will be without two strong contenders in the second run.

Henrik Kristoffersen, the World Cup slalom standings leader, finished outside the top 30 racers who qualify for the second leg and world champion Sebastian Foss-Solevaag skied out midway down.

Kristoffersen, getting the best racing surface as the No. 1 starter, went off line after just 20 seconds and had to hike back up the slope a few steps to resume his race. He then set the fastest split times to the finish but ended more than four seconds behind Braathen.

Olympic champion Clément Noël started next and went out at a tricky combination of gates on the signature steep final slope of the storied Chuesnisbärgli hill.

Braathen leads on the course where two years ago he suffered a season-ending knee injury crashing through the finish line in the classic giant slalom. On his return last year, he stopped his giant slalom run approaching the drop into the finish rather than tackle the slope again.

“Obviously, I don’t have the best history with the giant slalom in Adelboden but the slalom has been quite a good experience,” Braathen said Sunday after his run. “I need to separate the two.”

The 22-year-old Norwegian has a good record in Swiss slaloms, winning at nearby Wengen last January when he had placed 29th in the first run.

Sunday’s race started under heavy cloud cover and temperatures rising from 2 Celsius (36 Fahrenheit) to continue the unseasonably warm winter in Europe.


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