Feller grabs first World Cup victory in slalom at 'meadow' Flachau

Flachau (Austria) (AFP) –

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Austrian Manuel Feller surged through the falling snow in the second slalom run in Flachau on Saturday to grab his first World Cup victory.

Feller was fastest in the final run with a time of 55.15sec for a total of 1min 50.27

Frenchman Clement Noel was second, 0.43sec behind, for his first podium finish and another Austrian Marco Schwarz, who started the day atop the slalom standings was third, 0.70sec behind the winner.

"Awesome," said Feller who had attracted attention ahead of the weekend by lamenting the late switch to Flachau which he suggested was too easy.

The weekend's two slaloms were moved on Wednesday after spikes in coronavirus cases first in Wengen in Switzerland and then in Kitzbuehel which had stepped in as a replacement.

Feller, who grew up not far from Kitzbuehel, complained two "absolute classic" venues had been replaced by the "meadow" of Flachau.

"I was a bit nervous before the start because of all the headlines," he said after winning.

Noel was fastest in the first run for the third straight World Cup slalom. Twice earlier this month the 23-year-old crumbled and finished outside the top six. This time he was blown away by Feller, but did well enough to secure a first World Cup podium finish.

Feller was conservative on the first run but attacked as snow began to fall heavily in the second.

"I tried to make a solid ski in first run," he said, adding in the second run "I didn't even feel on the limit. It was just like everything was working perfect."

Feller was the fifth different winner in five slaloms this season.

"You have to give your best to be on the podium because you have about 20 guys who can ski on the podium," he said.

Feller moved one point ahead of Schwarz in the event standings and will wear the leader's red bib in Sunday's second slalom.

Overall leader Alexis Pinturault of France finished ninth to gain ground on his two main rivals, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and Marco Odermatt, who do not ski slaloms.