KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia – Norwegian skiers Henrik Kristoffersen and Rasmus Windingstad shared the same school as kids, and traveled together to races all over Europe.
On Saturday, they shared a World Cup podium for the first time.
Kristoffersen continued his strong form in giant slalom, holding on to a first-run lead in the penultimate men’s World Cup race of the season to beat Windingstad by 0.24 seconds for a Norwegian 1-2 finish.
“Me and Rasmus have been friends since we were six years old,” Kristoffersen said. “We have been to the ski gymnasium together, to the Europa Cup together, now the World Cup together. It’s really cool.”
Swiss pair Marco Odermatt and Cedric Noger placed third and fourth, respectively. It was the first career World Cup podium for Odermatt, who won four junior world titles last year.
Alexis Pinturault of France, who was second after the opening run, dropped to fifth, one place ahead of Marcel Hirscher, who all but secured his eighth consecutive World Cup overall title.
The Austrian leads Pinturault by 485 points in the overall standings with 500 points still up for grabs. Despite his mathematical chance of catching Hirscher, Pinturault was not expected to start in Wednesday’s downhill at the World Cup Finals, leaving him with just four events to score points.
Hirscher can officially clinch the title at Sunday’s slalom. By winning the overall championship, he would match the World Cup record of 20 overall and discipline titles set by Lindsey Vonn.
“I am a ski racer with passion. For my standards, today it was nothing so I am disappointed,” Hirscher said after his sixth-placed finish.
For Hirscher, the thought of winning his 20th crystal globe is “hard to put into words. Eight overall titles in a row is a very long stretch. To perform each day, it was and is an incredibly beautiful time.”
While Kristoffersen clinched his third World Cup win in a giant slalom, and 18th overall, Windingstad stepped onto the podium for the first time.
“It’s incredible,” said Windingstad, who made his debut on ski racing’s top-level competition in 2014 and earned his first top-10 result on the same course a year ago.
“This season has been fantastic for me: seventh twice in Bankso, 13th at the worlds, and now second,” he said. “It’s almost too good.”
Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen, who was third after the opening leg, failed to make it a Norwegian sweep of the podium as he skied out shortly before the end of his final run.
Last month, Kristoffersen ended a nearly four-year wait for a giant slalom win by earning the world title in Are, Sweden. He also went on to win the next World Cup, in Bansko, Bulgaria, two weeks later.
With Saturday’s triumph, Kristoffersen became the first Norwegian since Aksel Lund Svindal in the 2006-07 season to win two giant slaloms in one season.
The race start was delayed for two hours by fog in the upper part of the course.