Sweden’s Kristoffer Jakobsen fastest in first slalom leg in Kitzbuehel

Kitzbühel (Austria) (AFP) - Kristoffer Jakobsen clocked the fastest first run in the men’s World Cup slalom in Kitzbuehel on Sunday.

In bright, sunny conditions, the 29-year-old Swede timed 50.09 seconds down the Ganslern course.

Only 37 of the 70-strong field made it down the demanding course, 31 failing to finish, Austrian Michael Matt disqualified and Swiss racer Ramon Zenhaeusern a non-starter.

Switzerland’s Daniel Yule, winner last year in the upmarket Tyrolean resort, was second at 0.05sec, with Austrian Manuel Feller third (+0.23).

Reigning world champion Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway, starting with bib number one, eventually finished 30th, a massive 2.51sec off Jakobsen’s pace.

Olympic champion Clement Noel was well poised, however, in fifth at 0.42sec as France sought a Kitzbuehel cleansweep after Cyprien Sarrazin notched up a pair of downhill victories on the neighbouring Streif slope on Friday and Saturday.

Britain’s Dave Ryding, whose victory in Kitzbuehel in 2022 was the first ever in a World Cup by a Briton, was in equal 10th with teammate Billy Major, at 1.23sec.

A true crowd favourite in Kitzbuehel, Ryding descended the course as Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ blared over the tannoy.

“Is he pulling a rabbit out of his hat?” asked the emcee to roars from the crowd. “Will he be the black horse?”

Ryding, a Liverpool football fan, was then treated to adopted Anfield anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as he slid off from the finish area to prepare for the second leg scheduled at 1330 GMT.