France's Clement Noel speeds down the course during an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom race, in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)
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GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Norwegian skier Henrik Kristoffersen took a big lead in the opening run of a men’s World Cup slalom Wednesday, positioning himself for a first win in the discipline in 11 months.

Racing on a challenging course surface after days of mild weather, Kristoffersen posted the fastest intermediate times at the first three splits to lead home crowd favorite Linus Strasser by 0.71 seconds.

The only other skier to finish within a second of Kristoffersen was Frenchman Clément Noël, who was 0.93 behind in third as fourth-ranked Manuel Feller of Austria was left with 1.33 to make up in the second leg.

Kristoffersen won the World Cup season title in slalom for a third time last year but has not won a race in the discipline since back-to-back victories in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in February.

Those were the first two World Cup races after the Beijing Olympics, where Kristoffersen had just missed a slalom medal in fourth place.

Kristoffersen switched his equipment supplier in the offseason, joining the Van Deer-Red Bull ski brand founded by his former rival and record-eight time overall champion Marcel Hirscher.

His Norwegian teammate Lucas Braathen, who led the slalom standings after winning one of the two previous races this season, completed his run after a big mistake but was disqualified for not correctly passing a gate.

The leader of the overall World Cup standings, Swiss racer Marco Odermatt, does not compete in slalom.


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