Winters Threatens Again in Adelboden Slalom
Luke Winters attacked from the back again to snag his third points-scoring result of the season, finishing 26th in the slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland.
To the Swiss crowd’s delight, Daniel Yule of Switzerland took the FIS Ski World Cup win—his second victory of the week after winning Wednesday’s slalom in Madonna di Campiglio—ending Switzerland’s 12-year wait for a win at Adelboden. Having just won on home soil, Daniel threw a celebration for the books, yelling to the camera and the crowd, "THIS IS MY HOUSE!" In 53 years of World Cup racing, Daniel is now the first Swiss man to ever win three World Cup slaloms. Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was second and Marco Schwarz of Austria was third.
In the midst of his first full World Cup season, Luke had another heroic first run, skiing from bib 45 to 11th place—just .86 seconds off of the leader. A less aggressive line in second run paired with a couple of small mistakes dropped him back to 26th, but left him with more World Cup points as he skis through ‘slalom month.’
For Luke, an 11th-fastest first run and the consistency of scoring points show an upward trend in progression and a level head. Skiing fast first run forces him to experience the pressure and continue to work on finding the mental fortitude that will help him ski as fast as he can second run, rather than merely ski for points. "Just part of dealing with the pressure and putting yourself in that position is the best way to do it," Luke said after first run when asked about his game plan for second run. "I'm going to do what I did first run and not do anything crazy, and see what happens. I'm not too worried about it, though."
A mere 2.55 seconds separated Daniel in first and Luke in 26th, as the men's slalom circuit continues to be arguably the most competitive field on the World Cup circuit. Not only are many of the older skiers still skiing fast (including 36-year-old Olympic gold medalist Andre Myhrer of Sweden), but many of the younger guys are also slaying, like Norway's 19-year-old Atle Lie McGrath, who jumped from bib 75 to 14th after first run before DNFing second run. Perfect conditions, like those at Madonna di Campiglio and Adelboden, allow talent from the back to punch it in there and stamp their ticket to the top 30.
"Ski racing is a crazy thing," said Luke. "I for sure felt like I was carrying more speed on my first run, but I don’t have a clear answer on why I was so much more slower (on my second run). Still, it’s a crazy tight race. You ski a little bit worse and you move back a lot and that’s what happens. Look forward to the next one."
Three other Land Rover U.S. Alpine Ski Team men joined the slalom team in Adelboden: Ben Ritchie, Kyle Negomir and River Radamus. Ben—who just won a slalom NorAm in Stowe, Vt. on Wednesday—and Kyle both had just arrived in Adelboden on Friday, and their luggage did not make it to Europe. Ben was skiing on borrowed skis on Sunday. All three did not finish first run, but for Luke, it's great to have the whole crew together again. "It's so good to have three more U.S. guys here," Luke said. "It's just awesome to have them around."
The men’s World Cup tour next heads to the classic Lauberhorn track in Wengen, Switzerland for an alpine combined, downhill and slalom beginning on Friday. Downhill training gets underway on Tuesday in Wengen, but the U.S. men's slalom team will stay in Adelboden for a few extra days.
"We get some really good training on this hill for the next few days," said Luke. "I’ll try and dial everything in on this steep harder snow, which is what Wengen is going to be. I'll hope for a second run at least, and a better race."