(L-R) Second-placed Dave Ryding, winner Daniel Yule and third-placed Lucas Braathen
Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP) - Switzerland’s Daniel Yule held his nerve Sunday for a dramatic win to take the men’s World Cup slalom in Kitzbuehel for a second time in his career.
Yule, born in foothills of the Swiss Alps to Scottish parents, had clocked the seventh fastest time in the first leg down a super-icy Ganslern slope in the Austrian resort.
The 29-year-old, who won in Kitzbuehel in 2020, was third fastest on the second leg for a winning aggregate of 1min 44.63sec.
“They both feel amazing,” Yule said of his victories in Kitzbuehel. “But this one is a little bit special.
“To come back on this hill and win after some tough times, it feels unbelievable.”
Defending champion Dave Ryding took second, at 0.40sec. The Briton jumped 14 spots from his first leg performance with an exceptional second descent, the fastest of the field.
It was Ryding’s third podium finish on the Ganslern. He was also runner up in 2017. This time he edged out Norway’s Lucas Braathen by one-hundredth of a second.
“It feels so good, the piste was amazing,” said Ryding, who didn’t start race training on snow until he was 21, honing his technique instead on dry slopes in the north of England and the family’s annual ski holiday.
“I’d almost stopped believing in myself this year… but said ‘just go for it’. Sometimes you just need a kick up the arse.
“The course is difficult, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going, so ‘all in’ was the only thing I could do.”
Starting 15th in the second leg, 1.56sec off Austrian Manuel Feller’s leading first-leg time, Ryding laid down a storming run to take the lead as the favourites readied to come down.
Ryding kissed the snow and did a press-up, delighted with his run.
The Englishman, referred to throughout as ‘Sir Dave’ by the on-slope commentating team, punched the air as two strong Norwegians fell by the wayside.
Two-time Kitzbuehel winner and twice Olympic medallist Henrik Kristoffersen and then world champion Sebastian Foss-Solevaag both failed to dislodge the Englishman.
Swiss racer Tanguy Nef straddled a gate high up. Austrian Adrian Pertl threatened before losing time on the final third.
- Ruthless Yule -
Bulgarian Albert Popov and Italian Tomasso Sala failed to build on their superior first runs.
A trio of Swiss racers followed.
Yule produced a ruthless run to grab the lead from Ryding by an impressive 0.40sec. Ramon Zenhaeusern and Loic Meillard both let their advantage slip away.
Next up was France’s Clement Noel, but a costly error took the Olympic champion wide to lose valuable hundredths, finishing eighth, at 0.71sec.
“Without really wanting to, I think I skied with the handbrake on a bit, in fear of making errors,” said Noel, a winner in Kitzbuehel in 2019.
“That can happen when you ski out often. I think I can do better in terms of skiing, so I’m disappointed with the result.”
Third in the first run, Linus Strasser attacked, but the German could only come in behind Yule and Ryding.
Norway’s Braathen, second to Ryding last season, took third to kick Strasser off the podium.
The last man out of the start hut, Feller had all Austrian hopes riding on him for a home double after teammate Vincent Kriechmayr won Friday’s first downhill.
Setting off with a 0.85sec lead, Feller’s second ended as he straddled a gate high up the course, sealing a memorable second Kitzbuehel slalom title and sixth World Cup victory for Yule.
“To win in Kitzbuehel, there’s not much that’s bigger in alpine skiing so to celebrate a win here is unbelievable,” the Swiss racer said.
Braathen, with 370 points, leapfrogged compatriot Kristoffersen (365) to go top of the slalom standings, with Yule third (334).
Kristoffersen also moved to third in the overall standings on 710 ahead of Kriechmayr, with Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt (1,186) and Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (961) – neither of whom competed in the slalom – well out in front.