Manuel Feller led Austria’s podium in the men’s World Cup slalom on Saturday in a race that was interrupted by climate activists.
With five runners still left to start their final race, a handful of protesters from the Last Generation movement entered the track in Gurgl, Austria, just behind the finish line and spread orange powder on the snow.
Activists were carried out of the finish area by security and police personnel, while workers cleared snow before the race resumed eight minutes later.
In a post on the social network X, formerly Twitter, Last Generation said the action was a protest against government subsidies for fossil fuels.
The same group also protested before the previous World Cup race in Austria in October, when they blocked the only mountain road leading to the glacier in Soelden while three protesters sat for about 20 minutes, stopping fans on buses and cars trying to arrive. to the place where the giant slalom that opens the season will be held.
Men’s race director Markus Waldner told Austrian television that the International Ski and Snowboard Federation would reconsider its safety measures at races, with security staff better positioned around the finish area to prevent spectators from entering the race. track.
Waldner added that the outcome of the race had not been affected by the protest, although four of the five skiers who had to wait at the starting gate had disappointing second runs and finished outside the top seven.
SEE | Feller, the first Austrian to win a World Cup race in almost two years:
Feller appeared unaffected by the incident and maintained his lead in the first race to edge teammate Marco Schwarz by 0.23 seconds in one minute 47.23 seconds, while Michael Matt was 1.05 seconds behind in third place. (1:48.28) to complete the Austrian triple in the race. Kirchenkar field, a new venue for the circuit.
“It is important that there are people who defend such [issues]. On the other hand, if you enter the finish zone here, you will no longer be able to hold any events,” Feller said of the climate activists. “In general, we need to make sure we change something, that’s clear, but I think the sport of skiing “He is doing a good job in this regard.”
Feller earned his third victory on the World Cup circuit and ended an Austrian drought in the men’s slalom. No Austrian skier had won a slalom since Johannes Strolz triumphed in Adelboden in January 2022, after 17 races.
“To me this is incredibly cool,” Feller said. “There is nothing more beautiful than winning, except doing it with two teammates next to you on the podium.”
Canadian trio misses second race
It was the Austrian slalom team’s fourth sweep of a major race, and the first since Marcel Hirscher, Matt and Schwarz won medals at the 2019 world championships in Are, Sweden.
Great Britain’s Dave Ryding finished fourth and world slalom champion Henrik Kristoffersen was seventh. Fellow Norwegian Lucas Braathen, who won the slalom World Cup title last year, retired in October.
Calgary’s Erik Read, a two-time Olympian, failed to qualify for the second race after a 57.53-second effort. Toronto’s Justin Alkier and Liam Wallace did not finish the opening race.
Clement Noel, the French Olympic champion, was second after the first race, but dropped to 12th place.
AJ Ginnis, who took silver at the world championships in February for Greece’s first winter sports medal in a major event, was third fastest in the first run before going through a gate.
The slalom was the first men’s race of the season to be completed. The GS in Soelden was canceled after 47 starts in the first race due to strong winds. Two men’s cross-border downhills in Switzerland and Italy were suspended last weekend due to strong winds and heavy snow.
Last season, five of the first six events had to be canceled or rescheduled due to bad weather.
The next men’s races are in Beaver Creek, Colorado, with two downhills and a super G scheduled for December 1-3.
SEE | Complete coverage of the second men’s slalom race from Gurgl, Austria: