Hargin trumps Hirscher in slalom
KITZBUEHEL, Austria - Agence France-Presse
Mattias Hargin celebrates in the finish area after winning an alpine ski, men's World Cup Slalom, in Kitzbuehel, Austria, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. AP PhotoSweden's Mattias Hargin took advantage of a botched second leg by home favourite Marcel Hirscher to claim a maiden World Cup victory in Sunday's Kitzbuehel slalom.
Hirscher, the reigning world slalom champion and 2013 winner here, led after the first leg but a mistake halfway down the second run saw his time deficit overturned to hand Hargin a memorable triumph.
Hargin, 29 and with just three podium finishes to his name in eight seasons on the World Cup circuit, was third after the first leg (0.42sec down on Hirscher) and went on to clock a total winning time of 1min 43.10sec over the two legs.
Hirscher finished 0.49sec adrift of Hargin, the former's time for the second leg ranked just 23rd out of the 30 racers. Last year's winner Felix Neureuther of Germany came in third at 0.63sec.
"It's incredible, finally I made it," Hargin said of his maiden World Cup win. "I'm losing all the time and to win was a big release.
"Today I pushed as hard as I could - I normally try to ski as carefully as I can."
Croatian veteran and 2010 Olympic slalom silver medallist Ivica Kostelic, 29th after the first run, 2.65sec off Hirscher, set the early pace in the second leg until Norway's Sebastian Foss-Solvaag took control.
That did not last long as Austrian Mario Matt, who became the oldest Olympic alpine ski champion when he won the slalom at last year's Sochi Games at the age of 34, roared down the tricky course in 1:44.76.
French hope Alexis Pinturault overcame a sticky middle section to come through 0.22sec ahead of Matt, Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen then holding his form to jump into pole in a nerve-racking competition with the top 10 racers still to come.
Italian Giuliano Razzoli duly took top spot, the 2010 Olympic champion taking a 0.36sec lead over the Norwegian.
It was nail-biting action on the Ganslern piste as Neureuther blasted into the lead with four runners to come.
Compatriot Fritz Dopfer saw his 0.01sec advantage over Neureuther quickly disappear and he had to be content with a fifth-placed finish behind Razzoli.
But then Hargin made sure of a podium with an electric run, taking a massive 0.63sec lead to pile the pressure on Alexander Khoroshilov and Hirscher.
The Russian made a mistake halfway down the slope to ensure he didn't threaten the top three, eventually finishing sixth, and leave the scene set for home favourite Hirscher.
The Austrian kicked out of the starting hut with a 0.42sec advantage, built on it by the first intermediary, but immediately lost it on the following two after pushing too hard, handing victory to an elated Hargin.