The 2023/24 alpine skiing season has finally begun, and it was a thrilling start for the men’s slalom event in Gurgl, Austria. Manuel Feller, an Austrian skier, won the opening FIS Ski World Cup slalom event on home soil with a combined time of one minute, 47.23 seconds (1:47.23).
Feller’s aggressive approach paid off as he took a commanding lead after the first run with a nearly second advantage over reigning Olympic champion Clement Noel of France. Feller consolidated his lead with a superb second run of 54.01s while Noel had to settle for 12th place with a time of 1:49.09.
The win is Feller’s first since 2021 and only the third of his career, breaking an Austrian drought that nearly stretched over two years. Johannes Strolz was the last Austrian to clinch a slalom event on the World Cup circuit when he triumphed in Adelboden, Switzerland in January 2022.
This race was also significant as it marked the absence of reigning World Cup champion Lucas Braathen who retired in October due to injury. In his absence, fellow Norwegian and world champion Henrik Kristoffersen finished in seventh place with a combined time of 1:48.43.
However, there were some unfortunate cancellations for the first three alpine skiing events of the season due to bad weather in Austria and Switzerland – including the giant slalom opener and two cross-border downhills races scheduled for Switzerland.