Andre Myhrer of Sweden competes during the first run of an alpine ski men's World Cup Night Slalom in Schladming, Austria, Tuesday, Jan. In front of a ski-mad crowd of 45,000, the 19-year-old Kristoffersen beat Marcel Hirscher and Felix Neureuther by putting in a blistering second run for his first career victory. Matt, who won the event in 2000 and 2008, straddled the third gate of his final run and failed to finish. Hirscher closed the gap to Aksel Lund Svindal in the overall standings to 22 points, and extended his lead in the slalom standings.
The Norwegian made his debut in the last couple of races in the 2011-12 season, earned his first podium in his 15th race by coming third in the Levi slalom last November, and had two more top-three finishes in Adelboden and Kitzbuehel this month. His recent results saw him enter the elite group of seven slalom racers who get the best start numbers each race. Clinching his first win just weeks before the Olympic slalom suddenly has Kristoffersen dreaming about an upset in Sochi as well. Americans Ted Ligety and Bode Miller both failed to finish their opening runs after straddling a gate early.
Miller, coming off two podium finishes in Kitzbuehel last weekend, hiked back up the hill to complete his run but faulted again at another gate. Ligety, meanwhile, had a fast start and led Matt by 0.02 at the first split time before his mishap occurred. American teammate David Chodounsky was slammed on the nose by a bouncing gate and ended his first run with blood on his face, bib and race suit, but still finished in 14th, 1.73 off the lead.
Wolfgang Hoerl had an awkward crash in the first run when he tumbled over and fell head-first on the next gate, though the Austrian avoided serious injuries. The Austrian has 420 points, while Neureuther and Kristoffersen share second with 370 each. I just started cutting in too soon," said Ligety, who returned to the course where he won three gold medals during last year's world championships.
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