Austria's Manuel Feller was fastest on the first run of the season

Paris (AFP) - Home skier Manuel Feller of Austria was fastest on the first run of the Kirchenkar slalom in the Alpine skiing World Cup opening men’s race on Saturday.

On crisp, compact snow with the mercury below -9C Feller swooped down from the 2475m altitude starting gate at Gurgl taking 53.22sec to swivel down the tightly-gated run with French slalom specialist Clement Noel at 0.94sec in second.

Olympic champion Noel will need a shift in fortune to overtake the former world champion Feller in the afternoon second run.

The race marks the start of the 202324 season after the traditional curtain-raiser, planned for Solden in Austria at the end of October, was cancelled due to high winds.

The Zermatt-Cervinia men’s downhill, an event overshadowed by environmental issues due to damage to a glacier, was also cancelled due to heavy snow at a cross-border meeting between Switzerland and Italy.

The first of two scheduled women’s downhill races at Zermatt was shelved earlier Saturday due to poor weather.