Feller Takes Fourth Slalom Win Of The Season

Manuel Feller wins in Palisades Tahoe to take him closer to a first Crystal Globe. Feller had a simple aim when he arrived in Palisades Tahoe for the first of two late season Audi FIS World Cup stops in the USA.

And it took him just one minute 42.08 seconds to fulfil it.

“I just want to show that I am the best slalom skier at the moment and that’s what I did today,” Feller said, after taking a giant step towards securing his first Crystal Globe by winning a fourth World Cup slalom of what is swiftly turning into a magical season.

Slalom’s reigning Olympic champion Clement Noel (FRA) could only applaud the Austrian from second place (0.28 seconds back). While Linus Strasser (GER) was left ruing the second-run mistakes that dropped him to third and see him 204 points behind the Austrian in the race to top the season-long standings.

The German had put real pressure on Feller by winning two World Cup slaloms in four days in January (in Kitzbuhel and Schladming) and he ratcheted it up a whole lot more by laying down a brilliant first run in front of a passionate Californian crowd. Light on his skis and accurate from the start gate, Strasser had a 0.40-second advantage on the field at the halfway stage.

But Feller, third after run one (0.46 seconds behind) is clearly in the zone that all athletes chase.

“It was one of the toughest runs this season, it was already hanging from the gate and the course setting was so difficult you couldn’t ski every turn on the limit, there were some passages where you need(ed) to be tactical a little bit and I think I found the right tactic,” he said.

“Right now I am just taking every race with joy. I want to show everywhere in the world why I am wearing the red bib at the moment in slalom.

“Right now, it’s just easy.”

The 31-year-old is undoubtedly in the form of his life. In the seven World Cup slaloms to date, he is yet to finish worse than fifth and his four victories take him into truly exalted Austrian company – he is the first skier since the great Marcel Hirscher (AUT) to win four races in a season.

An unorthodox but exciting second course set riddled with all the usual late afternoon ruts and bumps did prove easy for anyone else. The 23-time slalom World Cup winner Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) was one of those to suffer, dropping down the leaderboard.

But Frenchman Noel was delighted to keep his late-season surge going.

“It’s not the perfect race because I am yet to win a race this season but I know it is not that easy to win a race and the other guys are really fast and I have to be a little bit faster. But at the end it is my third podium in a row so I can’t complain,” Noel said, before turning his attention to the standard-setter.

“The thing that is impressive with him (Feller) is that he’s always really full commitment, 100 per cent and that’s what I look (to) about him.”

Strasser meanwhile will head for a quick bit of rest and relaxation before his next chance to close the gap at next weekend’s race in Aspen (3 March) and frankly, he is relieved to still be in the battle.

“I would say first run was very good, second run I had, here and there, my problems. I didn’t hit the line perfectly. But overall, if I think about my second run I had three gates where I nearly went out sdo in the end I am happy with third place,” Strasser said.

“(I am) still in the game, let’s see.”

On the second day of the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup, Stifel U.S. Ski Team athlete Jett Seymour stole the show with a 15th place and secured the Stifel Bibbo Award moving from bib 39 to 15th place.

“I felt good about my second run. I had a few mistakes but that’s ski racing and I’m happy with the day,” said Seymour.

It was another picture perfect day in the Lake Tahoe region with sunny skies, loud crowds and perfect snow for the world’s best ski racers. The U.S. team had six men on the docket ready to take their crack at the red dog slope. Seymour was up first for the Stifel U.S. Ski Team. He sent it down the hill without looking back, landing himself a spot for the second run - the sole U.S. competitor to do so.

The domestic crowd showed up for Seymour on the second run. The cheers so loud racers could hear clearly from the start. Seymour was cool under pressure on the tricky second run set and knifed his way into the finish. He would end up moving eight spots from his original first run to land in 15th position. His season best finish of the year.

“It does not get any better than this,” said Seymour. “Standing in the start I can hear the crowd from the top. It elevates the nerves and energy and I just had to take that and use it to fuel my skiing.”

Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes Ben Ritchie, Jimmy Krupka and River Radamus did not finish the first run but are ok. Luke Winters and Isaiah Nelson did not qualify for a second run.

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