Germany's Linus Strasser celebrates victory in the Kitzbuehel slalom

Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP) - Germany’s Linus Strasser produced a thrilling second run to win the men’s World Cup slalom at Kitzbuehel on Sunday.

After finishing fourth fastest in the first leg, Strasser clocked an electric 49.87 seconds in the second leg for a winning combined total of 1min 40.36sec. It was the 31-year-old German’s fourth World Cup victory.

Sweden’s Kristoffer Jakobsen, fastest in the first run, claimed second place at 0.14sec, while Switzerland’s Daniel Yule, winner last year in the upmarket Tyrolean resort, rounded out the podium (+0.20).

“I took part in my first race here and always dreamed of coming back as a World Cup racer and winning,” said Strasser, the first German to win since the now-retired Felix Neureuther in 2014.

“It feels like the circle of the history is closing again – it’s done, I was always dreaming about it, I believed in it, especially the last two years.

“The mission was always to get a ‘Gans’ trophy, to be on the podium, winning is a different story.

“It happened today, so I am unbelievably happy. It’s a little difficult to realise that it is really Kitzbuehel.”

In a dramatic afternoon of racing, the second leg saw Britain’s Laurie Taylor briefly lead before Croatia’s Istok Rodes, 24th fastest in the first run, take the leader’s spot.

Italy’s Tommaso Sala, in 12th, finally bettered Rodes before Britain’s Dave Ryding, whose victory in Kitzbuehel in 2022 was the first ever in a World Cup by a Briton, laid down an exceptional second run in 50 seconds flat to snatch top spot.

Ryding, who didn’t start race training on snow until he was 21, honing his technique instead on dry slopes in the north of England and the family’s annual ski holiday, kissed the snow and did a press-up, delighted with his run.

That left 10 racers to come. Ryding’s teammate Billy Major and home hope Dominik Raschner faded.

Switzerland’s Marc Rochat and France’s Steven Amiez also failed to trouble Ryding’s combined time.

There was drama as Olympic champion Clement Noel, well poised in fifth at 0.42sec, then skied out high up the course on which he won in 2019.

That scotched French hopes of a Kitzbuehel cleansweep after Cyprien Sarrazin notched up a pair of downhill victories on the neighbouring Streif slope on Friday and Saturday.

Strasser, who has won Olympic silver and world bronze medals in the team event, finally bettered Ryding’s strong second leg to take the lead off the Briton by almost a second.

That left the top three, in reverse order, from the first leg.

First out of the start hut was Manuel Feller, but Austrian hopes of the skier bagging a fourth slalom victory of the season were dashed, although he pushed Ryding into third with a strong finish.

Yule then grabbed second to leave Jakobsen with it all to do, the Swede managing to dislodge the Swiss but unable to budge Strasser.

Reigning world champion Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway, starting with bib number one, could only finish 30th in the first leg, and eventually placed 21st, a massive 3.75sec off the pace of Strasser, who walked away with the 100,000-euro prize money.