Norway's Lucas Braathen celebrates in the finish area after completing alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

Norwegian Skier Braathen Upset Favorites In Gs For 1St Win

October 18, 2020 - 5:53 am

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Lucas Braathen upset the pre-race favorites to clinch his first career win at the season-opening men’s World Cup giant slalom Sunday.

The Norwegian was fifth before posting the second fastest time in the decisive leg to finish ahead of Swiss duo Marco Odermatt and Gino Caviezel.

Odermatt, the fastest racer in the second run, was five hundredths behind, and Caviezel, who led after the opening run, trailed by 0.46 seconds.

Last year’s winner Alexis Pinturault missed the podium by 0.03 seconds in fourth, while GS world champion Henrik Kristoffersen finished in joint fifth place with Loic Meillard, the third Swiss skier in the top five.

Defending overall World Cup champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde failed to finish his first run. Braathen’s Norwegian teammate came wide on a left turn and lost his right ski when he caught a bump.

Ted Ligety, who won the race a record four times, was 10th after the opening run but the American’s left ski came off early in his second.

The 20-year-old Braathen, competing in only his 23th event in the World Cup, had a fourth place as his previous best result at the slalom in Kitzbuehel in January.

The GS has become a wide-open discipline since the retirement of Marcel Hirscher. The dominant Austrian won the GS season title six times in seven years before ending his career in 2019.

Last season, Kristoffersen scooped the title, but Pinturault, Croatia’s Filip Zubcic and Slovenia's Zan Kranjec all finished within 30 points of the Norwegian’s tally after seven races.

The Russian team was excluded from Sunday’s race after coronavirus tests of two of its coaches came back with unclear results.

The team, including racers Pavel Trikhichev, Alexander Andrienko and Ivan Kuznetsov, was isolated awaiting results of retests.

No spectators were allowed at the race as one of the precautionary health and safety measures amid the pandemic.

The next World Cup races are parallel events for men and women in another Austrian resort, Lech/Zuers, on Nov. 13-14.

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